About 20 years ago, Australia was a wealthy country, which could proudly count on its agriculture, farming and fishing, its rich natural resources, and numerous local thriving manufacturing activities. In 2018, over 10 percent of Australian land was owned by foreign states, its water, coal, and quality produce exploited and shipped overseas, its major and essential industries relocated out of Australia. Today, this figure has progressively increased. The result is a country that is losing its independence and becoming a hostage of some big powers, China being the top one.
In 1998, when I first visited Down Under, the country was healthy and rich, life was affordable for the majority of its population, unemployment and poverty rates were low. Local produce was tasty and abundant. Despite the lavish quantity of natural resources, there was a sense of responsibility, awareness, and respect, where the government would listen to its citizens’ opinions.
Since then, the increasing greed of too many shortsighted politicians and businessmen let the tentacles of big ruthless supremacies, such as the Chinese regime, infiltrate and corrupt Australia’s economy, politics, education, healthcare, infrastructure system, and culture. Since then, Australians have been gradually, relentlessly, and silently losing their freedom and wealth, often not realizing or knowing that those in power, who should protect the country, are allowing it to be bought out.
In 2020, China has its hands on some of the most fertile agricultural lands, biggest cattle stations, largest dairy farms, finest wineries, quality fisheries, coal mines, health care, and infrastructure, including the ownership of an airport in Western Australia, the lease of the Port of Darwin until the end of this century, and the ownership of 20 percent of the port of Melbourne.
According to a report dated June 30, 2018, by the Register of Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land, “11 percent of Australia’s agricultural land was foreign-owned, with the highest proportion (24 percent) in the Northern Territory’. ‘The United Kingdom remained the largest foreign agricultural landholder (2.6 percent of agricultural land), followed by China (2.3 percent of agricultural land).”
China also possesses our largest and healthier dairy farms. Mengniu Dairy, the Chinese company responsible for poisoning about 300,000 babies with its toxic milk in 2008, owns the following brands through its acquisition of Lion Dairy & Drinks division: Dairy Farmers, Pura, Farmers Union, Masters, Moove, Dare, Vitasoy, Yoplait, Frûche, Divine Classic, YoGo, Big M, Berri, Just Juice, and Daily Juice. In September 2019, Mengniu also bought the baby formula maker Bellamy for US$1 billion with the approval of the Foreign Investment Review Board (Firb).
Recently, it was reported that the 130-year-old and biggest dairy producer of Western Australia, Brownes, was sold to a consortium led by Shanghai Ground Food Tech.
Most essential industries are in the same position and clear examples are rice and dairy producers in the Murray River Basin, who instead of being supported by the government, are forced to helplessly watch while their water is taken away. The water rights, in fact, have been sold to the higher bidder, once again China. As a result, Australia, which could be completely self-sufficient, is importing 95 tonnes of rice every year. Similar policies have been adopted also in South Australia, where waterways have been deviated and destined to big businesses leaving the local communities to face drought and bushfires.
According to the Federal Government, 10.4 percent of Australian water rights are owned by foreign individuals or companies and China is the bigger stakeholder with its 732 gigaliters, 1.89 percent of the water market, more than Sydney Harbour, which holds 500 gigaliters. These data are revealed in a new ATO (Australian Taxation Office) register, whose task is to monitor the ownership of Australia’s natural resources.
Other farms, including the Cubbie Station, one of the largest Australia cotton manufacturers located on the Queensland and New South Wales border, sold their business. Fifty-one percent of the well-known station was bought by Chinese textile giant Shandong Ruyi in 2012.
Yakka Munga Cattle Station in the Kimberley was acquired by Zenith, a Chinese company, which completely disregarded the ecosystem and with no permit or consultation with the local community, cleared 120 hectares of land, diverting rainwater, and starting excavation works. In 2019, the Western Australian Government ordered them to rehabilitate the site, but this will take many years.
In Tasmania, Cattle Hills Wind Farm is in the hands of a Chinese state-owned listed enterprise whereas in New South Wales, on September 1, 2017, Yancoal Australia Ltd. (Chinese firm) acquired Rio Tinto’s Coal & Allied Hunter Valley thermal coal business.
In February this year, the Chinese tycoon Qingnan Wen, already proprietor of the 2000-hectare Lal Lal Estate near Ballarat, which he paid US$20 million for in 2014, placed an offer to buy a renowned heritage wool farm, Mawallok estate near Beaufort in Western Victoria. The deal is being approved by FIRB (Foreign Investment Review Board).
The list of assets that Australia sold off to China continues with some of the most prestigious wineries in the Barossa Valley, some big hospitals and Healthcare providers — which also gives China access to our medical data.
In 2017, the amount of Australian medical centers in the hands of China raised to 35 after the private hospital operator Health Care — bought by China’s Luye Medical group in 2016 for US$938 million — acquired 15 clinics from Pulse Health in a US$155 deal, followed by a further three — Shellharbour Private Hospital, South Coast Private mental health hospital, and Wollongong Day Surgery — all in New South Wales. According to the Financial Review, at the time of the purchase, the group secured an income of more than US$700 million and operated more than 2,500 beds.
These and many more agreements make Australia China’s sixth-largest trading partner. Twenty-five percent of Australia’s manufactured imports come from China and 13 percent of its exports are thermal coal to China.
To the general public, buying local items has become harder and harder, because most first value produce is exported, and Australians are often forced to purchase lower quality goods of doubtful origin. Labels are often misleading; in fact, some goods are made in our country with imported materials/ingredients or they are made locally but the ownership is a foreigner. Despite our land being surrounded by oceans, our best lobsters and fish are transported fresh abroad, while we are left with second choice seafood.
Despite numerous warnings by ASIO (Australian Security Organization Intelligence) about the risks of the growing influence of the Chinese Government in our country, both local and federal governments continue to heavily rely on this ruthless regime’s money, which over time has shown a total lack of ethics, as well as the ongoing violation of human rights, and its plan to expand its world dominance at every opportunity. In 2019, Daniel Andrews (the Victorian premier) signed the Belt and Road Initiative agreement with the Chinese Communist Party, which determines a high involvement of the Red Dragon in the development of Victorian infrastructures and even tighter ties with it.
Adding up to the ownership of countless meaningful assets and the direct influence on our economy, there is China’s soft power, its growing influence on our freedoms, which is impacting our education system, freedom of speech, and our everyday life. Over the last few years, the CCP has infiltrated our culture to the point that there have been cases of people being penalized for criticizing the CCP. A recent example is that of a philosophy student at the University of Queensland, which, like many others, heavily relies on the Chinese students’ fees. Drew Pavlou was hit with disciplinary actions, including the possibility of being expelled, for being pro Hong Kong democracy and criticizing the Beijing regime for repressing and persecuting its minorities, including Falun Gong, Uyghurs, and Tibetans.
The current events related to the spread of the CCP virus, (concealed by the Chinese government for weeks), more than ever revealed our dangerous dependence on China for our essential goods and the irresponsible sale of our precious resources. In February, many CCP-backed organizations in Melbourne and Sydney, coordinated by Mr. Kuang, a former officer in the People’s Liberation Army, arranged two airlifts of medical supplies from Australia to Wuhan. The shipments included 10 tonnes of disinfectant, 35,000 sets of protective medical suits, and 200,000 pairs of gloves. Mr. Kuang also used a public platform to appeal to all Chinese in Australia to contribute by buying more equipment and essentials and sending them to their homeland, along with money and everything they could gather in Australia. The result was that our country ran out of supplies when they were most needed.
Despite the overwhelming evidence and several lawsuits being filed worldwide aiming to hold the CCP accountable for the damages caused by COVID-19, some of our politicians still praise the rampant regime and are willing to continue to sign deals with it.
The Red Dragon is recovering quickly and it will most likely try to take advantage of the situation by buying the best foreign assets made available by the deep crisis and economical loss created by the pandemic.
The Australian Government, in an attempt to protect our businesses, legislated in favor of filtering all offers to purchase through FIRB. This said, so far FIRB, which is meant to safeguard Australian interests, has not really limited the sale of our best businesses.
Last week, Virgin Australia, strongly affected by the present crises, went into voluntary administration and is trying hard to stay afloat and be able to save 1600 jobs, and further support from the government does not seem to be an option.
Australia is losing its freedom and independence with the complicity of its short-sighted and greedy government, which is exchanging democracy and human rights for money, power, and personal interests. Making deals with the CCP is like signing deeds with the Devil: It stimulates people’s greed with large immediate revenues, but the real bill comes in time and it greatly surpasses the initial reward.
Hopefully, this pandemic will be a wake-up call about the growing dangers of continuing to do business and having ties with China, and will convince those in power to start reversing the situation.