Islands near Australia could be sold to China — RT World News


The owner of the conflict islands has warned he will sell them to Beijing if Canberra does not buy them

Australia is doing a lot to challenge China in the region without buying the conflict islands, even as the current owner threatens to sell them to Beijing, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has told local media. The islands include 21 coral atolls located off the east coast of Australia between Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

Noting that the disputes are just some of the more than 500 islands in this region, Albanese argued that the Australian taxpayer was unable to buy them all in case China found any. Moreover, it would set a terrible precedent. « If asset sellers went through the media [to] say, « I want Australia to buy this, otherwise there are implications we’ll sell it to China », think where that ends, in terms of taxpayers, » he said.

The current owner of the islands, retired entrepreneur Ian Gowrie-Smith, had emailed Foreign Secretary Penny Wong in June with an offer to sell them for ASD$36 million ($25 million) . Strategically located close to one of Australia’s main shipping lanes and the three massive data cables that carry Australian data along the ocean floor, they are of added national security interest given the recent signing by the Solomon Islands of a security pact with China, he pointed out, warning that if he did not receive a response, he would sell them to Beijing.

With no response, Gowrie-Smith made the rounds to the media, saying he was « baffledby the lack of interest given that at least one of the atolls could accommodate a military runway and claiming its « agentwas already speaking to Chinese buyers. « I do not know if [the proposed deals] are strategic in nature, but the fact is that they have the money, » he said.

Albanese insisted his government was superior to his predecessor in projecting regional power against China, citing visits to several Pacific countries since taking office in May. « We will take a look at this particular transaction“, he admitted before explaining that it is really a problem for Papua New Guinea, whose sovereign territory is located on the islands.

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