Chinese investment in Australian property market declines amid tensions

BEIJING, May 18: The escalating tensions between Canberra and Beijing have dampened the Chinese interest in Australian property and investments have declined by 29 per cent in 2020, according to data from Real Capital Analytics (RCA).

Total investment in Australian property both from state-owned and private enterprises in China reached USD 935.5 million in 2019, falling to USD 664 million last year, South China Morning Post reported citing RCA’s data. As of the first quarter of this year, it was down to just USD 22.7 million, according to RCA.
The data tracked deals involving income-producing real estates such as offices, industrial and retail buildings, hotels, rental apartments and development sites for commercial and residential projects worth at least USD 10 million.

“The tension in the international relations [between Canberra and Beijing] will affect foreign direct investments into Australia, including investments in its property market, where Chinese investors constitute one of the largest foreign investor groups in the country,” said Sing Tien Foo, director, Institute of Real Estate and Urban Studies at the National University of Singapore.

About 11 per cent of all new apartments in Australia in 2018 were built by Chinese developers, with the share projected to rise to 22 per cent this year, according to the report released by Knight Frank in 2019.

Tensions between China and Australia have escalated over a slew of issues which have now led to a point where the Chinese state-media threatened ballistic missile strikes if Canberra gets involved in a potential military conflict over Taiwan.

Relations started to fray in 2018 when Australia banned Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies from building its 5G network, the first Western country to do so.

Since then, relations have deteriorated and are now perceived to be at their lowest point following Canberra’s criticisms of how Beijing handled the coronavirus pandemic.

Canberra has also been locked in an ongoing trade war with Beijing for several months as China has slapped sanctions on various Australian products.

China, early this month, had suspended all activities under the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue, a forum launched in 2014 and last convened in 2017. This decision comes a few weeks after Australia scrapped the controversial Belt and Road (BRI) agreement with China.