On June 5, 2017, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation aired a program called Power and Influence: How China’s Communist Party Is Infiltrating Australia. The program was especially controversial as it discussed how Chinese businessmen have donated to various Australian parties and universities. The donations were said to be part of China’s efforts to interfere and spy on Australia.

The program also discussed how the director of Australian Security Intelligence Organization, Duncan Lewis, warned the Parliament about how espionage and foreign influence in Australia are happening on a massive scale.

In retaliation, China released an article on the state-run publication Global Times. According to the said article, a Chinese National Security staff claims that Australia is doubling its efforts on spying on China. The article also said that Chinese people working in Australia have been interrogated and harassed by Australian intelligence officials. These Chinese citizens are then urged to spy on their country by gathering information of Chinese communities and the Chinese embassy. The report also claimed that Australia even sent back Chinese citizens to China to gather more information.

China accused Australia of spying

Australian Strategic Policy Institute Director Peter Jennings [Left] with Lord Michael Williams of Baglan, Chatham House [Right] (via flickr.com)

Australian Strategic Policy Institute director, Peter Jennings, says the Chinese government is responding to Australia’s counter allegations against it. He also said, “I have a sense from that and the Ambassador’s response that Chinese authorities have been taken by surprise by the reports and pushback.”

Jennings believes that Australian political parties have received payments of donations from China. It is likely that China is now reconsidering its approach on influencing the Australian politics given that it received a strong negative response.

On the other hand, China’s ambassador to Australia said that ABC’s reports have been made out of thin air. China’s foreign ministry also added, “the claim is baseless, extremely irresponsible and not worth refuting.” “There was no convincing evidence, and merely chased shadows and a bunch of overstatements.”