China has reacted furiously to proposed foreign interference laws, accusing the Australian Government of making “irresponsible” comments which have hurt “political mutual trust”.
The Turnbull Government yesterday unveiled the biggest overhaul of espionage and intelligence laws in decades amid growing concerns over international interference in Australia’s democracy.
In a terse statement issued on Wednesday, the Chinese embassy in Canberra declared Beijing, “has no intention to interfere in Australia’s internal affairs or exert influence on its political process through political donations”.
“Some Australian politicians and government officials also made irresponsible remarks to the detriment of political mutual trust between China and Australia,” an embassy spokesman said.
“We categorically reject these allegations.”
The embassy has also attacked what it described as “fabricated news stories” in recent media reporting of “so-called Chinese influence and infiltration in Australia”.
“Those reports, which were made up out of thin air and filled with Cold War mentality and ideological bias, reflected a typical anti-China hysteria and paranoid,” the spokesman said.
“The relevant reports not only made unjustifiable accusations against the Chinese Government, but also unscrupulously vilified the Chinese students as well as the Chinese community in Australia with racial prejudice, which in turn has tarnished Australia’s reputation as a multicultural society.”
Earlier, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman in Beijing, Geng Shuang, gave a more mild response to the Turnbull Government’s announcement.
“China always follows the principle of mutual respect and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs when it comes to developing friendly cooperation with other countries, and this principle holds true for developing bilateral ties with Australia,” Mr Geng said.
US welcomes Turnbull Government crackdown
American officials have been increasingly concerned at the level of Chinese influence in Australia, and the acting United States ambassador has cautiously welcomed the Turnbull Government’s announcement.
“I won’t comment on the Australian draft legislation, as that is for the Australian Government to decide,” Charge d’affaires James Carouso told the ABC.
“But our democracy is facing similar concerns with foreign interference and our FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act) is helpful in finding ways to deal with the problem,” Mr Carouso added.