Sinking feeling: Chinese investment in Australia plunges as tensions mount

16 Septembre, 2020, 02:23 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Sinking feeling: Chinese investment in Australia plunges as tensions mount

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Dutton declined to directly confirm that the Chinese journalists were questioned by Australia's intelligence agency in June, saying an investigation was still underway, but said there was some "activity" by the country's intelligence agency.

It was the third consecutive year that Chinese investment in Australia dropped since peaking at A$15.8 billion in 2016.

The steep fall far outpaced a global decline in China's overseas ventures of 9.8 percent past year, reflecting the bilateral political tensions.

China News Service said on Saturday (Sept 12) that the raids "grossly violated the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese media reporters stationed in Australia, and caused serious damage to the physical and mental health of journalists and their families".

That followed similar comments by Xinhua news agency, which said late on Friday that the actions taken by Australian authorities were "utterly appalling" and damaged relations between the two countries. Australia's trade minister said on Friday the agencies acted on evidence related to a foreign interference investigation.

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Relations between Australia and its top trading partner China have been deteriorating gradually over the recent years and have soured further this year after Canberra called for an investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus, angering Beijing.

But this move was widely viewed as an effort to limit growing Chinese influence. In 2018, Canberra barred mobile technology maker Huawei Technologies Co Ltd from joining the rollout of the nation's 5G network.

China has imposed trade restrictions on products including barley and wine, prompting Australia to tighten national security tests for foreign investment.

Professor Peter Drysdale, who led the data research, said the A$1.43 billion purchase of infant formula producer Bellamy's Australia by China's Mengniu Dairy accounted for more than half of that investment.

Drysdale said structural changes were also partly to blame, with Chinese investors retreating from mining and resources as the commodity boom weakened.

While Chinese investment in Australian real estate and agriculture also fell in 2019, the ANU researchers found some "modest gains" in the construction, education and finance sectors.

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