Daniel Andrews “Belt-and-road” MOU favours China

Does Daniel Andrews know what he’s getting into?

April 2019: Daniel Andrews in hock to China?

Daniel Andrews will attend Chinese president Xi Jinping’s forum to promote its controversial Belt and Road Initiative


Bank of China expansion raises disclosure questions

Bank of China emerges as the fifth largest lender to the Australian government sector behind the Big Four domestic banks. Disclosures in APRA’s monthly banking statistics show that a government customer borrowed A$100 million from the Bank of China in October 2018. It is rare for Australian governments or their agencies to borrow directly from state-owned foreign banks given the potential for such arrangements to create conflicts of interest for domestic governments.

Source: MacroBusiness

Source: Banking Day

Daniel Andrews and China

By some estimates, more than half the 61 countries committed to BRI projects have credit ratings below investment grades. Many of them have poor governance, unstable economies and are riddled with corruption. So why China’s risky strategy, dubbed as ‘debtbook diplomacy’? As Harvard Kennedy School scholar Sam Parker told the Australian Financial Review this May, ‘China is loaning hundreds of billions to countries that often can’t afford to pay it back, and it is going to want something in return for that money”. You guessed it: the collateral for these loans is not physical assets, but sovereignty itself.

Source: Rite-ON!

For example:

Andrews won’t budge on Belt and Road deal

Mr Andrews broke ranks with the federal government last year when he signed a memorandum of understanding with Beijing on the BRI, which is viewed in Canberra as a vehicle for Chinese regional and global expansion. The four-page MOU signed in October said Victoria and China would work together to promote the ‘connectivity’ of policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people­, while acknowledging Victoria was ‘welcoming and supporting’ of the BRI.

Source: The Australian

At first Andrews refused to release details of the agreement but after being pressured, he released *some* details:

Daniel Andrews releases details of Belt and Road agreement with China

The four-page document, signed by Premier Daniel Andrews and Lifeng He, chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, binds Victoria and China to no specific commitments [but] states that Victoria and China will agree to co-operate on ‘facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial co-operation, people-to-people bond[s], and promote Digital Silkroad co-operation’. Co-operation will occur in the form of dialogue, joint research, pilot programs, knowledge sharing and capacity building, the memorandum states.

Labor signed the agreement with the Chinese government in early October but kept its details under wraps for weeks, arguing it was standard practice to keep such MOUs confidential.

In a statement, the Andrews government said on Sunday that the MOU was not legally binding.

So if it was not binding, then why sign it?

“As it always does, the government will consider both the Victorian and national interest before agreeing to be involved in any specific activity”.

As if they are capable of determining the national interest.

Source: The Age

Andrews won’t budge on Belt and Road deal

Mr Andrews said he did not see China as simply a ‘customer’ for Australian exports, ‘it is a partnership’. ‘Our biggest export in this state is international education, and we’ve seen the number of Chinese students grow from about 60,000 when I was first elected to almost 90,000 today. ‘We’ve seen our exports go from about $6.5 billion to close to $11bn’.

Source: The Australian

As a matter of fact, the development of the Higher Education export sector was started by the major Universities under John Howard’s leadership. Growth is led by university rankings, led by Melbourne Uni. For Daniel Andrews to claim credit for this achievement is a measure of his character – and without any attempt to give credit to the people who really did grow the sector.

Victoria’s trade with China:

Exports Imports Deficit
2014-15 $4.3b $16.1b $7.8b
2017-18 $6.5b $20.2b $13.7b
Growth $2.2b $4.1b $5.9b

Source: DFAT
No wonder Andrews only talks about exports. While he claims to have grown exports by $4.5b (his numbers are fake), in fact China has grown imports into Victoria by $4.1b and the trade deficit with China has grown in China’s favour.

The rest of Australia has an enormous *positive* trade balance with China. But Victoria has a negative trade balance of $13.7b and refuses to exploit its significant onshore gas reserves.


Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, president of Zimbabwe, during their meeting in Beijing, China.

Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, president of Zimbabwe scored a photo-op with
Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Andrews wasn’t considered important enough. Maybe if he lifts the ban on gas exploration, then Victorian exports might look more attractive.

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