Australia welcomed booming Chinese investment and the government has said it expected further growth despite recent tensions over a detained mining executive and the visit of an exiled dissident.
Patrick Colmer, head of Australia’s Foreign Investments Review Board (FIRB), said China was Australia’s third-largest investor last year, behind the United States and Britain, and was "probably going to go higher than that in future".
However, he urged Chinese businesses to cooperate more closely with regulators and adopt a less heavy-handed approach when seeking acquisitions.
He said, "We do welcome Chinese investment. The government is keen to see that continue. The government is also keen to maintain Australia’s national interest."
According to analysis carried out for the Financial Review newspaper, Asian investment in commodities-rich Australia surged almost 40% to $17.5 billion in the year to June, led by Chinese mining acquisitions. China accounted for 49 of the 153 deals involving Asian investors, and spent double what it did the previous year.
A number of Chinese bids are currently before the Foreign Investment Reveiw Board, including a $2.8 billion offer from Yanzhou Coal for Felix Resources, which would be the largest ever takeover of an Australian company by a Chinese state-run firm.
Such bids face challenges, as illustrated when Australia’s military rejected a proposal from Chinese steelmaker Wuhan Iron and Steel Co. (WISCO) to gain access to a mining project on the sensitive Woomera weapons testing range.
AFP reports Treasurer Wayne Swan will give his final ruling following advice from the FIRB. But note he ke knocked back a similar bid by China’s Minmetals for OZ Minerals in March because its flagship Prominent Hill project was in the Woomera zone.