How Dan Andrews is allowing a Chinese company which was blacklisted by the US over security fears and is part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative to build Melbourne’s new trains
- CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles won bid to build trains for Melbourne in 2016
- Premier Daniel Andrews then made deal with China’s Belt and Road Initiative
- CRRC has been identified as a potential cyber-security threat by the US
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A Chinese company which was banned in the US over security fears and tied to the nation’s Belt and Road Initiative will build Melbourne‘s new trains.
CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles won the bid to build 65 new high-capacity metro trains in 2016, just a week before Premier Daniel Andrews travelled to China.
Mr Andrews then went on to strike a deal with the communist country under the Belt and Road Initiative, which allows China to invest in huge infrastructure projects around the world.
Manufacturing company CRRC has been identified as a potential cyber-security threat by the US Defence Department because of its involvement in critical infrastructure, The Age reported.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews reacts during a press conference at the Carrum Train Station construction site in Carrum, Melbourne, in January
A report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in March also found the manufacturer is one of 82 companies benefiting from the use of Uighur workers.
CRRC was launched in 2015 and employs about 180,000 workers at more than 40 subsidiaries. The company made more than $44billion in 2018.
The train program is more than 18 months behind schedule. CRRC was chosen ahead of local manufacturers.
Mr Andrews maintains Victoria’s Belt and Road deal, along with many others the state has with China, is ‘all about jobs’.
Chinese companies which have been investing in Victorian projects such as the Metro Tunnel have been employing tens of thousands of local workers, he said.
The leader stressed that doesn’t mean he is turning a blind eye to China’s human rights record.
Daniel Andrews (pictured in China’s Tiananmen Square) signed a deal with China under the country’s controversial Belt and Road Initiative in October 2018
‘We don’t agree with China on everything,’ Mr Andrews told reporters in June.
‘But if you want a good trading relationship, if you want to send more Victorian-made product to China, to create jobs here in Victoria, then a good relationship on the things you can agree on is very, very important.’
CRRC has built trains for Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles but faces increased scrutiny in the US.
The manufacturer was identified on a list of Chinese companies working in the US with close links to the Chinese government created by the US Defence Department.
Those on the list could face emergency economic powers and sanctions by the US president.
Mr Andrews is pictured with Chinese Ambassador Cheng Jingye
Daniel Andrews’ deal with China
In October 2018, the Victorian Labor government signed a memo of understanding with China under the country’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The BRI is a Chinese plan to establish maritime trade routes and invest in infrastructure projects around the world.
More than 170 memos of understanding have been signed with 125 countries.
Premier Andrews said he wanted to increase Chinese participation in Victorian building projects, manufacturing, and trade.
Pictured: Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Keqiang on May 22
In October 2019, Mr Andrews reached a ‘framework agreement‘ with China that vowed to make a roadmap for cooperation on specific initiatives.
So far the roadmap has not been published.
Critics say the BRI is a tool to expand influence and power across the globe.
Federal Liberal MP Andrew Hastie told Daily Mail Australia that Mr Andrews had ‘gone off the reservation by conducting his own foreign policy with China’.
As trade tensions with China mount, Mr Andrews has been urged to scrap the agreement, which he claims creates jobs for Victorians.
Michael Schoebridge of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said: ‘The Victorian government’s BRI activities are simply out of step with the new international and economic environment, including the now openly coercive directions that Beijing is taking with Canberra over trade and in government relations.’
Victorian Labor senator Kimberley Kitching, chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade References Committee, said: ‘The Victorian government should not have entered into an agreement with the Chinese government on the Belt and Road Initiative – it is bad policy and bad optics.’