The decision to block the purchase of OZ Minerals, a mining company, by state-owned China Minmetals Corporation, coincides with a heated debate concerning a much larger investment that the Chinese metals company Chinalco is planning to make in the British-Australian mining group Rio Tinto.
Two weeks ago, Chinese antitrust authorities blocked a move by Coca-Cola to take over Huiyuan Juice Group, a Chinese juice manufacturer, for $2.4 billion — a decision that caused widespread concern about China’s attitude to foreign takeovers of local companies.
Australia’s treasurer, Wayne Swan, said on Friday that he decided to block the OZ Minerals transaction because the company’s Prominent Hill gold and copper mine, its core asset, is near a sensitive military facility.
See also “OZ in shock after ban on China” from The Age. Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who speaks fluent Mandarin, and his Labor Party have been criticized for cozying up to China. From Courier Mail:
A day after Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon admitted he had failed to reveal two trips to China paid by a Chinese businesswoman, the Opposition reignited its attack over Labor’s links with Australia’s biggest trading partner.
Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull accused Mandarin-speaking Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of running around overseas like a “roving ambassador” for China.
But senior Labor Minister Anthony Albanese dismissed the attacks, saying the Opposition was “ringing the old bell about the red hordes coming down”.