The Australian Ministry of Homeland Security has told a local newspaper that the government will take its interests into account.
Defense Minister Peter Dutton has confirmed that his department is reviewing ownership by a Chinese company with an important port used as a base for US Marines.
The Prime Minister’s National Security Committee Scott Morrison’s Cabinet has asked the security department to advise on ownership, Dutton said in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald published last Sunday. Asked if the government was doing well under duress, the minister said he was considering patriotism.
This should escalate tensions between Australia and China that play a major role, which has been decided since the Morrison government called last year for Beijing to allow independent researchers in Wuhan to investigate the origins of coronavirus.
The Northern Territory government’s 2015 bid to sell a long-term contract at the Port of Darwin to China Landbridge Group has been criticized by security experts. It comes four years after President Barack Obama reached an agreement to establish 2,500 Marines in Darwin, located at the mouth of the Indo-Pacific.
China criticized Australia’s decision last month to use new legislation to block Belt-and-Road agreements with the Victoria government. There have been speculations that Morrison could use the law, enacted in December, to cancel long-term loans that Chinese companies have made to ports in Darwin and Newcastle.
“As far as the Port of Darwin is concerned, if there is any advice I can get from the Department of Defense or the media agencies that indicate there are security threats there, then you expect the government to take action,” Morrison told a radio interview Friday.