Published: Fri, December 08, 2017
Global | By Shelia Dennis

China blasts Australia over Turnbull Government's foreign interference laws

The proposal follows the controversy over the influence exerted by China and donations to local politicians by Chinese agents, as well as the investigations in the U.S. over the possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections there, reports Efe news.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, flanked by the Attorney General and Leader of the ruling Liberal Party in the Senate, announced December 5 a raft of new measures to ban political funding from overseas, as well as the introduction of new criminal offenses related to working with 'foreign entities'.

"We should not be naive about this", Turnbull said, "Foreign Powers are making unprecedented and increasingly sophisticated attempts to influence the political process".

The Australian government on Tuesday announced a package of legal reforms against foreign interference in order to counter espionage, counter-intelligence and political donations.

Senator Sam Dastyari resigned from a senior position with the opposition Labour Party last week after he acknowledged warning a Chinese businessman linked to the Community Party that his phones were being tapped by Australian intelligence agencies.

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"We urge the Australian side to look at China and China-Australia relations in an objective, fair and rational manner", the statement added.

The Australian government has proposed a wide-ranging crackdown on foreign interference in political activity.

The ban on donations will cover payments to political parties from foreign bank accounts, non-citizens and foreign entities.

As well some media had repeatedly fabricated news stories about the so-called Chinese influence and infiltration in Australia. Dastyari has not denied the accusation, but said he did not know Huang was the target of a surveillance operation.

"[This] reflected a typical anti-China hysteria and paranoia", it added.

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An Australian defence and security expert, Dr Ross Babbage, from the Centre of Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington, said the changes were overdue and were required to curb China's increased attempts to interfere in Australian politics.

"Healthy and stable China-Australia ties serve both countries' interests".

Former President Barak Obama's administration previous year called for the Australian system to be reformed to remove the influence of political donations from China — Australia's largest trading partner and its biggest source of foreign political funds.

Acts of political interference such as Senator Dastyari's soliciting of a donation from Mr Huang would be outlawed under an update to Australia's treason and espionage laws.

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