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International relations

Australia tightens foreign investment rules after market tumble

Move seen as aiming at Chinese bargain hunters as coronavirus rattles stocks

China's Landbridge Group signed a 99-year lease for the strategically important Darwin Port in Australia's Northern Territory in 2015, sparking concerns about Chinese influence over national interests.   © Reuters

SYDNEY -- Australia is adopting an increasingly defensive posture toward Chinese investment after years of embracing massive and steady streams of capital from its largest trading partner.

The Australian government is now requiring that all proposed foreign investments are subject to scrutiny by the Foreign Investment Review Board, regardless of their deal value. The length of the reviews has been extended to a maximum of six months, from one month. Although Treasurer Josh Frydenberg denied the move was targeted at one particular country, it is clearly focused on China, which has been pouring money into Australia.

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