China “rents” Australian island – kicks Australians out

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From Wikipedia:

Keswick Island is an island in the southern half of the Whitsunday Islands. Located 34 kilometres north-east of the Queensland city of Mackay, Keswick Island is part of the Cumberland Islands of islands that lay protected inside the waters of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The island is inhabited by a small number of residents. It is a semi-popular tourist destination. Visitors can stay in a small number of catered and self-catered accommodation. The island has its own airstrip and is accessible from Mackay Airport by a short plane flight or by private boat.

From the Daily Mail:

China Bloom bought a 99-year lease to a portion of Keswick Island, 34km north-east Mackay in central east Queensland, in 2019. Helpless residents have also been forced to endure ongoing restrictions at the hands of the international group, claiming it has become ‘property of the Chinese Communist Party’. It ‘tries to stop Aussies from even setting foot there’ and appears to be keeping it exclusively for Asian tourists

From Breitbart:

A Chinese developer has allegedly taken over Keswick, a small Australian island off the country’s northeast coast. After purchasing the islet on a 96-year lease in 2019, local residents said this week that the company, China Bloom, has essentially forced them off the island.

China Bloom gained control of about 289 acres of the 1,310-acre island last year under the nearly 100-year lease. The company plans to develop a tourist resort on Keswick to accommodate an estimated 3,000 people. Since preparations for the resort began, Keswick locals say China Bloom has enacted several measures on the island to force residents out.

The question is, why? What is this “developer” doing in Australian waters? Why did the government allow them access to an island with fishing and mineral rights and a strategic position close to the mainland? Is this China’s version of the Spratly Islands? Why is Australia issuing leases to China at all?