China’s Xi Jinping hopes for ‘fair Australia investment policy’ after talks on G20 sidelines
His comments come after first meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull since Canberra blocked a major deal
Beijing hopes Australia can provide a fair and transparent environment for foreign investors, President Xi Jinping said on Sunday as he met Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for the first time since Canberra blocked a major deal.
Australia angered China in August after Turnbull’s government stopped the A$10 billion (US$7.57 billion) sale of the country’s biggest energy grid to Chinese bidders after they failed to overcome security concerns.
After a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, Xi said China “hopes the Australian side continues to dedicate itself to providing foreign investors a fair, transparent and predictable policy environment”.
China’s Foreign Ministry quoted Xi as telling Turnbull: “This also accords with Australia’s own interests.”
The decision has caused a rift between Australia and its biggest trading partner.
China has accused Australia of bowing to protectionist sentiment in blocking the bid for Ausgrid, as well as an earlier one by a China-led consortium to buy cattle company Kidman & Co.
Speaking to reporters later, Turnbull said China understood as well if not better than anyone else that it was Australia’s sovereign right to determine who invested there and the terms in which they invested.
“China has more freedom to invest in Australia, indeed all foreigners have more freedom to invest in Australia, than in almost any other country,” he said.
“We have a very open foreign investment policy. So we mostly say yes, we almost invariably say yes, but from time to time we say no and we make no bones about that and China respects that.”
He added that the Ausgrid case was not specifically mentioned in the meeting.
Australia, a staunch US ally, has also drawn criticism from China for running surveillance flights over disputed islands in the South China Sea, and supporting US freedom of navigation exercises there.
Xi said China and Australia should respect each other’s “choices in their development paths and each other’s core interests and major interests”, the foreign ministry added.
Turnbull said he discussed the South China Sea with Xi, and the importance of complying with international law.
“We’re a good friend of China and good friends are very honest with each other,” Turnbull said.
“We are consistent and our position is very clear that we expect and encourage all parties to comply with the rule of law, to show restraint and not act in a way that would exacerbate or create tensions.”