Chinese investment in Australia hits new low

As tensions between Beijing and Canberra continue to simmer, Chinese investment in Australia has slumped to its lowest level in six years.

The annual tracking study from the Australian National University recorded A$1 billion Australian dollars of Chinese investment in 2020, consisting of real estate, mining and manufacturing deals.

That's a 61% fall, larger than the 42% decrease in foreign direct investment globally measured by the United Nations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

That's according to Shiro Armstrong, the director of the East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.

Australia announced a shakeup of its foreign investment laws in 2020 to give the government the power to veto, or force the sale of a business if it creates a national security risk.

Chinese company Mengniu abandoned a deal to buy the Australia dairy firm Lion Dairy and Drinks from Japanese company Kirin in August, after the Australian government indicated it would block the sale.

The Chinese embassy said in November that 10 Chinese investments had been blocked in Australia on national security grounds, among a list of 14 grievances Beijing had about Australian government policy.

China has since imposed dumping tariffs on Australian wine and barley, and restricted the unloading of Australian coal at Chinese ports.

Chinese investment in Australia peaked at A$16.5 billion Australian dollars in 2016.