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Australia 'Won't Hesitate' to Take Back Control of Darwin Port from Chinese Company

CC BY 2.0 / kenhodge13 / HMAS Adelaide Leaves the Port of Darwin for the last time HMAS Adelaide Leaves the Port of Darwin for the last time
HMAS Adelaide Leaves the Port of Darwin for the last time  - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.02.2022
Australia awarded the port of Darwin to China’s Shandong Landbridge Group in 2015 on a 99-year lease. The deal immediately raised national security concerns in Australia and among its western allies, prompting the defence department to order a review. At the time, the Australian Defence Secretary described the concerns as “alarmist” and “absurd."
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday that the lease of the Indian Ocean port of Darwin to a private Chinese company wasn’t authorised by the federal government, as he passed the buck to the territorial government which was in power at the time (2015).

“When the lease was given all those years ago by the previous Territory Government, there was no authorisation given by the Federal Government, ever. I know others push that around. That is just simply false,” Morrison stated at a press conference in Darwin.

Morrison also said during his presser that he “won’t hesitate” to take control of the port from the Chinese company if “national interest” required him to do so.

"If there are recommendations and certainly advice that we receive from the Defence Department and that requires further action, then I will not hesitate. I will not hesitate,” Morrison said when asked if he would terminate the lease in the future.

The Aussie PM said that the lease deal was still “under review” of the Australian Defence Department. He also claimed that the remarks by Australia’s then-Defence Secretary Dennis Richardson at the time about the deal “were not the views of the Australian Government at that time”.
Morrison is facing flak from the main opposition Labor Party over the 2015 deal, with the leader of opposition Anthony Albanese accusing him of serving the “interests” of China during a parliamentary debate.
Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has also slammed Morrison over the 2015 port lease. Morisson was the federal treasurer when the lease deal was signed.
The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) is moored pier side at Naval Base Guam May 15, 2020. Theodore Roosevelt's COVID-negative crew returned from quarantine beginning on April 29 and is making preparations to return to sea to continue their scheduled deployment to the Indo-Pacific. - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.11.2021
US to Upgrade Military Infrastructure, Develop New Bases in Australia, Guam to Counter China
Meanwhile, Morrison and Defence Minister Peter Dutton alleged that Labor’s policy towards China hasn’t been tough enough.
Both of them stated in Parliament that Beijing would prefer Albanese to be the country’s next PM as Australia prepares for a federal vote in the coming months.

Washington's Concern Over Darwin’s 99-year Lease

The port of Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory (NT) has often been described as the country’s “most strategic” port asset due to its location facing Asia.
At the time of Australia’s decision to award the port’s lease to the Chinese company, then-US President Barack Obama told former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that Washington should have been given a “heads-up” about the decision.
As per a 2011 agreement between the US and Australia, around 2,000 American marines will be stationed in Darwin on a “cross-rotational basis” until 2040.
The US Department of Defence also announced last year that it would “upgrade” its military infrastructure in Australia in the coming years as part of the Global Posture Review (GPR) under the Joe Biden administration.

"In Australia, you'll see new rotational fighter and bomber aircraft deployments. You'll see Ground Forces Training and increased logistics cooperation," said Dr. Mara Karlin, the acting deputy undersecretary of defense for policy.

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