South Asia and Beyond

Another Australia-China Flashpoint?

Australia’s defence minister has confirmed the government is mulling the forced sale of Darwin port, currently held by a Chinese firm the Landbridge Group. The divestiture would be for national security reasons and the defence ministry is expected to issue an advisory this week.

It means scrapping a deal that has been in operation since 2015, when Darwin was leased to the Landbridge Group for 99 years and payment of $391 million. The government at that time dismissed concerns over the Chinese military gaining access to the port as “alarmist nonsense”. Constitutional experts say it is well within the government’s powers to do so but it could worsen ties with China.