A Chinese Company Operates the Port of Darwin in Australia?
China Is Steadily Increasing Its Influence over Australia

Since Mr. Malcolm Turnbull became Australia’s new prime minister in September of this year, China has been rapidly spreading its tentacles to Australia.

Mr. Turnbull has been drawing criticism at home for being pro-China. In addition to having a relative that was once a leading member of the Chinese Communist Party, Turnbull is trying to let a Chinese firm take part in a project for the building of Australia’s national broadband network, its domestic information infrastructure.


China Aims to Hamper Japan-Australia Security Cooperation

The Australian government is advancing a joint development project of the country’s next submarines in which Japan, Germany, and France are competing to be selected as a partner. The new prime minister has also shown consideration for China in this project.

While the companies in Germany and France said that the submarines could be built in Australia, Japan whose submarine manufacturing technology is said to be among the best in the world has been reluctant to allow Australia to build submarines domestically out of concern about technology leaks to other countries.

One the other hand, the Turnbull administration has indicated a willingness to build the submarines locally, so Germany and France have an edge over Japan at this time.

If Australia decides to buy submarines from Japan, this will lead to an enhancement in maritime security by sandwiching the South China Sea between Japan and Australia.

However, there is no ruling out the possibility that Prime Minister Turnbull himself is concerned that selecting Japan as a partner for the joint development would lead Australia to participating in an anti-China coalition.

The final proposal for the project will be submitted to the Australian government at the end of November. Is it possible that Canberra will adopt Tokyo’s proposal?


A Chinese Firm Operates an Australian Military Port?

In October of this year, the Government of the Northern Territory in Australia signed a 99-year lease deal worth $506 million (about 44 billion yen) on behalf of the Port of Darwin with a Chinese company, Landbridge Group. The NT government aims to modernize the port’s facilities with the aid of the abundant financial resources of the Chinese enterprise.

However, Darwin has an important military base. More than 100 naval ships use this port every year during joint military exercises that the Australian Army conducts with the U.S. and other of Australia’s allies. What will happen if China controls this port? The U.S. Marine Corps as well as the Australian Army have been expressing serious concerns.

An independent, non-partisan think-tank, the Australian Strategic Policy Institution (ASPI), reported that Landbridge group had intimate ties with the Chinese Communist Party. In August of 2014, Landbridge group established a fully trained, privately armed, militia with the support of the People’s Liberation Army. Based on such information, ASPI is urging the government to review its policy.

China is promoting a strategic initiative called the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road. It is highly likely that the port of Darwin will become a crucial link in this modern maritime, Silk Road, trade route.


Japan, the U.S., and Australia Must Strengthen Their Anti-China Coalition

It is highly likely that China is attempting to expand its influence over the area from the South China Sea to the western Pacific by bringing Australia over to its side.

The former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot worked toward tightening security ties with Japan and the U.S., keeping China in check, but now that Turnbull, who attaches more importance to relations with China, has come into power, future Japan-Australia security cooperation will likely be in danger.

It is essential for Japan to revamp its strategy toward Australia, and to develop a system in which Japan, the U.S., and Australia work together to maintain peace in the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

A Chinese Company Operates the Port of Darwin in Australia?
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