Australia formally bans Chinese from leasing power grid

SYDNEY – Australia’s treasurer has formally blocked Chinese bidders from leasing a Sydney electricity grid, saying the deal would not have been in the nation’s best interest.

The announcement Friday by Treasurer Scott Morrison comes one week after he announced preliminary plans to ban Chinese state-owned State Grid Corp. and Hong Kong-registered Cheung Kong Infrastructure Group from bidding for a 99-year lease over a 50.4 per cent stake in Ausgrid due to classified national security reasons.

Morrison’s initial announcement prompted criticism from China and accusations from some in Australia that his decision was made to appease influential lawmakers with xenophobic views. Morrison has rejected those accusations as false.