Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce mentioned China’s threat as a reason for Australia to invest in a new port in Darwin.

At an election campaign on Tuesday, April 12, Joyce said that growing instability in the Asia-Pacific region was also a reason for the investment in the new port, which would help boost the export of gas and critical minerals.

Bloomberg cited Joyce saying, “China is moving down militarily and we see that now with them trying to start a base in the Solomon Islands.”

Darwin’s existing port was leased to the Chinese-owned Landbridge Group in 2015 for 506 million AUD (376.8 million USD).

As relations between China and Australia deteriorated in recent years, Canberra allocated 1.5 billion AUD (1.1 billion USD) to build a new port at Middle Arm in Darwin.

Darwin serves as Australia’s naval entrance into the tumultuous Asia-Pacific area. It is also a base for 2,500 US Marines as part of a decade-long security partnership with the US.

The Sydney Morning Herald cited John Blaxland, professor of defense studies at Australian National University, saying, “Darwin is a frequently visited port for US warships transiting from East Coast USA to the Middle East, through the Pacific, across the Indian Ocean, as well as visits from the Seventh Fleet based in Japan.”

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