Australia’s spy work on China increases, says security staffer

By Bai Yunyi Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/29 0:23:39

Australian spies closely monitor Chinese citizens, eavesdrop on embassy

China has accused the Australian government of spying on the country and monitoring Chinese people in Australia.

"In global covert struggles, Australia had never played the role of victim. However, they are wantonly working on intelligence about China and groundlessly accusing China of spying on them. The logic is ridiculous," a staffer with China's national security department told the Global Times.

Earlier this month, the Chinese foreign ministry slammed an Australian TV program for claiming that China is "infiltrating" the country, calling it baseless and "not even worth refuting."

Meanwhile, Australian lawmakers have been blaming each other for "taking donations" from Chinese companies to affect Australian foreign policy, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) News said.

The national security department staffer said Australia's agents in disguise would get close to Chinese people working or living overseas to collect information or even encourage them to subvert China.

Meanwhile, in the name of avoiding "Chinese spy threats," Australian intelligence operatives are closely monitoring Chinese people and the Chinese Embassy in Australia.

Many Chinese people have been interviewed or harassed by Australian intelligence and are being required to provide information on Chinese communities and the Chinese embassy. Some of the Chinese people were even sent back to China to gather information.

"Australia has also been stealing Chinese technology. In the 1990s, Australian media reported that Australian intelligence had installed eavesdropping devices in the Chinese embassy," the  employee from China's security department told the Global Times.

The department found many eavesdropping devices at the embassy, which prompted the Chinese government to renovate its embassy, the employee said.

Controversial TV program

A program called Power and Influence: How China's Communist Party Is Infiltrating Australia was aired by ABC on June 5, which claimed a Chinese espionage network was operating in Australia and threatening the country's security.

The program featured two Chinese businessmen in Australia who donated to Australian parties and universities and claimed that it was the Chinese government's way of interfering and spying on Australia.

ABC said "Australia's domestic spy chief Duncan Lewis warned Parliament that espionage and foreign interference in Australia were happening on an unprecedented scale."

"This has the potential to cause serious harm to the nation's sovereignty, the integrity of our political system, our national security capabilities, our economy and other interests," Lewis said.

The speech was believed to have targeted the Chinese government, and was followed by an order from Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to investigate espionage and interference from other countries.

"The claim is baseless, extremely irresponsible and not worth refuting," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said when asked to comment at a press conference on June 5.

"The speech was very ridiculous. There was no convincing evidence, and merely chased shadows and a bunch of overstatements," the employee at China's national security department told the Global Times.

Conflicting claims

Australia has also been interfering in China's national security investigations.

In the program Power and Influence, ABC interviewed Feng Chongyi, a Chinese scholar in Australia, who claimed to have been detained and investigated by China.

Feng said that in March, after interviewing lawyers and scholars on human rights in China, he was tracked, monitored and detained by the national security department and was banned from leaving China. He said his relatives were also threatened.

Feng said he believes that was the department's way of telling him to keep his distance from sensitive issues or he would be detained or punished.

However, the employee with China's national security department told the Global Times that Feng, as a Chinese citizen living in Australia, had suspicious connections with overseas intelligence departments, therefore, Feng was forbidden from leaving the country and should be investigated according to the Counterespionage Law and the Exit and Entry Administration Law of China.

"During the investigation, the national security department had never limited Feng's freedom to communicate, and had not contacted his relatives," the security department employee said.

However, it should be noted that China's legitimate counterespionage investigation of a Chinese citizen should be of no concern to Australia, who asked China to "release" Feng and used media to sensationalize the case, the employee said.

Posted in: DIPLOMACY

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