Pic credit: abc.net.au
China’s Government has slammed Australia’s choice to obstruct a Chinese firm’s $300 million requests for the Australian construction firm Probuild, involving the Federal Government to undermine trust between the two countries.
This week earlier, Probuild declared that state-owned China State Construction Engineering Corporation had rescinded its proposal after being said the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg would block the deal on national security grounds.
Zhao Lijian fiercely, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman criticised the move on Tuesday evening, citing the Australian Government of separating against Chinese things.
In a press briefing in Beijing, he said, “This is the newest example of how the government of Australia has been breaking market policies, the spirit of the China-Australia free trade agreement, and politicising investment or trade issues, and requiring discriminatory actions on Chinese companies.”
He said, “it is a misconception to politicise regular commercial service and query political interference in the sign of internal security.”
Probuild is an Australian subsidiary of the South African firm Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcon. Probuild is building the Melbourne headquarters of biotech firm CSL that will soon make locally produced vaccines of COVID-19 for millions of citizens in Australia. Probuild is also making the new headquarters for the Victorian Police.
The Federal Government has not verified it had suspended the sale, stating it does not reflect on the way it screens individual foreign investment matters.
But one industry expert said the Government was worried the takeover might enable foreign intelligence services to collect data about the critical foundation in Australia.
One of the world’s largest construction companies is The China State Construction Engineering Corporation.
The United State Government listed this company as a Chinese military company last year. Because of its connection with the People’s Liberation Army, it is blocking investors from getting a stake in it.
The Australian Government proposed tough new foreign investment laws that got into force on January 1 2021. Regulators were given greater controls to examine and scrutinise matters that could have national security connections.
The decision is likely to inflame tensions between Australia and China further.