Dutton says China’s lease on Darwin port isn’t etched in stone

China's Landbridge group still has 93-years to go on its controversial Darwin lease.

China's Landbridge group still has 93-years to go on its controversial Darwin lease. Photo: ABC

The Port of Darwin lease is one of many deals that have been sown up with China – and one Foreign Minister Marise Payne could consider ending after she tore up Victoria’s the Belt and Road initiative with the Asian giant last week.

The Northern Territory government signed a 99-year lease for the Port of Darwin to a Chinese-owned company in 2015.

“There are literally thousands of these cases to look at and the foreign affairs minister is working through all of that,” Defence Minister Peter Dutton told ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.

“I am not pre-empting or suggesting that she’s looking at it. I think it is a question for Marise to look at these individual cases. If it is not in our national interests then obviously she will act.”

The decision to end Victoria’s infrastructure initiative with China was the latest twist in growing Sino-Australian tensions.

Target Taiwan

Within the region, there are concerns of a looming battle from China aiming to retake Taiwan.

“I don’t think it should be discounted. I think China has been very clear about the reunification and that’s been a long-held objective of theirs,” Mr Dutton said.

“If you look at any of the rhetoric that is coming out of China from spokesmen, particularly in recent weeks and months in response to different suggestions that have been made, they have been very clear about that goal.”

He said there is a significant amount of activity and an animosity between Taiwan and China.

“For us we want to make sure we continue to be a good neighbour in the region, that we work with our partners and with our allies,” he said.

“Nobody wants to see conflict between China and Taiwan or anywhere else.”


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