Forget about the torch relay, the biggest issue Australia has with China right now is the Communist country’s extraordinary land grab for our already largely foreign owned resources dowry.
The Australian’s national affairs correspondent Jennifer Hewett might be costing News Ltd more than $200,000 a year, but she’s been worth that fat wage in recent days with her ground-breaking coverage on the Foreign Investment Review Board’s push-back against Chinese Government raids on more Australian resource stocks.
The Australian was right to splash with the story on ANZAC Day but Hewett’s coverage has since surprisingly been relegated to the business pages.
As a foreign-controlled company with continuing Chinese aspirations, News Corp has never unleashed its media might on the world’s biggest totalitarian regime, so don’t hold your breath for The Daily Telegraph to splash with “Reds under every bed”, even though the current circumstances do warrant some rigorous public debate.
Let’s be clear about what we are facing here: the Chinese Government has launched a co-ordinated strategy to buy up as much of Australia’s strategic resources as possible.
The following extraordinary shopping list is BEFORE the revelation that another dozen Chinese applications are currently before the FIRB:
March 2007: Shougang Corp steel group spent $56 million buying 13% or iron ore developer Australian Resources and agreed to fund $US2.1 billion development of the Balmoral South project;
July 2007: CITIC spent $113 million lifting its stake in Macarthur Coal from 11.6% to 19.9%;
September 2007: Queensland government awards Chalco rights to develop $3 billion bauxite project near Aurukun;
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September 2007: Anshan Iron & Steel paid $39 million for 13% of Gindalbie Metals and signed $1.8 billion joint venture deal to fund Karara iron ore project in WA;
January 2008: consortium of five Chinese companies given FIRB approval to fund $3 billion Oakajee port and rail project in WA;
January 31, 2008: Shougang Corp spent $400 million buying another 20% of WA iron ore company Mt Gibson Iron, but has since been forced to sell for breaching takeover rules;
January 25, 2008: Sinosteel spent $100 million for more than 10% of WA iron ore hopeful Midwest Corp;
February 3, 2008: Chinalco spent $15.5 billion for 9% of Rio Tinto shares in London;
February 26, 2008: China Metallurgical Group announces proposed $400 million acquisition of Cape Lambert Iron’s namesake WA project. CMG already owns 20% of nearby $5 billion Sino Iron Project;
April 28, 2008: FIRB approves China Petrochemical Corporation paying $600 million for 60% control of the Puffin oil field in the Timor Sea, the first time a foreign government has operated an Australian oil field;
April 29, 2008: Midwest board recommends agreed $1.36 billion bid from Sinosteel priced at $6.38 a share.
When you add all this up, Chinese Government backed companies have signed deals to spend more than $20 billion on companies with a majority of their assets in Australia and in the process have bought the rights to spend another $15 billion-plus directly developing additional projects.
Add in the wave of applications that FIRB is stalling, the stand-off over iron ore contracts, the rejection of spot price shipments and BHP’s takeover bid for Rio Tinto and our Mandarin speaking prime minister finds himself in a very tough spot. How about a policy of no more Chinese takeovers unless Australian investors can do likewise in China?