Chinese company Shandong Landbridge Group remains committed to developing and managing Darwin Port of Australia, its senior manager said, saying its lease not only complies with Australia’s laws but is also based on a “business practice that generates mutual benefits”.
Vincent Lai, CEO of Landbridge Infrastructure Holdings Ltd, gave the remarks at a News conference amid reports the Australian government is about to review the possibility of scrapping Landbridge’s 99-year lease on Darwin Port on the back of national security concerns despite various inspections conducted over the past few years.
“It is a business practice that generates mutual benefits. It is a normal business exchange and cooperation, which does not involve any security issues,” Lai said.
Shandong Landbridge Group is a private corporation focusing on port construction and energy industries. Landbridge Infrastructure Holdings is a Hong Kong-based company for the investment project for Darwin Port.
Australia’s Northern Territory government in October 2015 leased Darwin Port to Landbridge for 99 years. Lai said the company completed its payment of $393 million to secure the lease. The port is considered as the gateway to Australia-Asia trade since it is Australia’s nearest port to Asia.
Lai said the port provides about 100 full-time jobs for the local community, and 200 other jobs indirectly. By 2020, the total tonnage of ships arriving at the port reached 30 million tons. Most of the exports and imports are related to Chinese destinations.
A Reuters report quoted an unnamed source saying officials from Australia’s Ministry of Defence are looking into whether Landbridge should be forced to give up its lease of Darwin Port on national security grounds.
Lai said the deal had undergone inspections by the Northern Territory government and Australia’s Ministry of Defence, as well as a series of legal inspections. All have found the deal complies with Australia’s laws.
Lai said some statements made by relevant parties and people in Australia have violated the basic spirit of the contract and the business principle of mutual trust.
Such behavior “has severely damaged the legitimate rights and interests of Shandong Landbridge Group under the port lease agreement”, caused negative impact on the group’s normal business activities, and affected its international cooperation and reputation, he said, adding that the company is monitoring the development of the case and will consider “legal advice or other appropriate ways to protect its lawful rights and interests”.