Giant Chinese fishery to be built next door to Australia
Concerns over a deal for China to build a new $200 million fishing complex just 200km from the Australian mainland need to be "taken very seriously" a Federal MP has warned.
"Why would a $200 million fishing complex go into an area where there is no commercial fishery," Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said on Tuesday.
The Chinese government controlled Fujian Zhonghong Fishery Company has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Papua New Guinea government to build the fishing complex at Daru - the nation's closest town to Australia.
But Mr Entsch said what fishing is there is well managed and the sole source of food and income for 13 villages. "China doesn't give a stuff about sustainability," he said.
"I worry that it is less about fishing and more about other intentions," said Mr Entsch, whose electorate includes the Torres Strait islands just 40km from Daru.
China has aggressively been extending its influence through the Pacific with loans for infrastructure projects as part of its Belt and Road Initiative.
"China only gives loans and doesn't hesitate to foreclose on them and seize strategic assets as payment," Mr Entsch said.
Mr Entsch said he had raised his concerns about the Daru fishing complex with Foreign Minister Marise Payne but has as yet been unable to arrange a face-to-face meeting with her.
He is calling for Canberra to exert its influence over the chaotic PNG government and point out the risks of such a project. But he is worried any concerns will fall on deaf ears.
"There is a lot of money involved that could go to the benefit of the few who sign it off," he said. "I think we need to take it very seriously."
The deal for the new fishing complex comes amid an increasingly tense trade war between Australia and China that has seen embargoes and tariffs slapped on Aussie wine, wood, barley, meat and lobster. Now coal is in the firing line.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has reacted angrily to Chinese media reports that Beijing has black-listed Australian coal.
"This accumulative series of actions has prompted us to call it out and to raise our concerns, economically here in Australia, directly of course with China through all of our
diplomatic channels available to us and ultimately to already do so at the World Trade (Organisation)," he said.
He said a Chinese ban on coal would be discriminatory to Australian producers and a breach of trade practices.
Chinese state-owned media reported on Sunday that Australia had been "shut-out" of a new coal policy that gave power plants approval to import coal without customs restrictions from every other country.
The Global Times reported the new policy was designed to stabilise coal prices. The government mouthpiece also published an opinion piece blasting Australia as an "anti-China pioneer" with a "sense of anxiety" about being invaded.
"Due to its high degree of dependency on the US for security and the growing concern about the rise of China in the region, Canberra is very worried that Washington's strategic contraction will aggravate risks of it being abandoned by Uncle Sam," the op-ed read.
Originally published as Giant Chinese fishery to be built next door to Australia