Australia wages espionage offensive against China: source

By Fan Lingzhi and Yang Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/28 18:57:57 Last Updated: 2020/6/29 0:52:32

Chinese and Australian national flags are seen at an event in Sydney, Australia. File photo: Xinhua

Australia is waging an intensifying espionage offensive against China - sending agents to China to spy, gather intelligence and recruit assets, instigating defection among Chinese nationals, spying on Chinese students and organizations in Australia, feeding fake news to media to hype up the "China espionage theory" and even in early years attempting to install wiretaps in the Chinese Embassy in Canberra, the Global Times has learned from a source with a Chinese law-enforcement agency. 

Multiple Australian espionage cases uncovered by Chinese law-enforcement agencies showed that Australia is a veteran in spying against other countries and precisely "the thief who is crying stop the thief" as it steps up infiltration, spying and technological theft operations against China, the source told the Global Times.  

In response to Australia's espionage offensive, Chinese counterespionage agencies will take more vigorous countermeasures to crack down on Australian espionage operations to safeguard China's national security and interests, the source said.  

Thieves get caught 

In 2018, a Chinese law-enforcement agency uncovered a spying operation launched by Australia and arrested agents who work for Australian security intelligence agencies, and seized materials, including espionage equipment, US dollars and Chinese yuan used for espionage funds, and the intelligence information they were going to exchange. 

According to the pictures provided by the source, the Australian spies caught red-handed also had a compass, a USB flash disk, a notebook, a mask, gloves and a map of Shanghai. On the notebook, there was some English handwriting about addresses, which are relevant to their operations.

Photo: Intelligence funds, spy tools and maps discover from Australian spies

The Global Times learned from the Chinese law-enforcement agency that Australian security intelligence agencies are not just spying on China within Chinese territory, but also conduct acts against overseas Chinese in Australia and other countries, such as inciting the defection of some overseas Chinese to work for them. 

A case cracked by the Chinese law-enforcement agency showed that Australian security intelligence agencies incited the defection of a targeted person and trained him on Swan Island near Canberra with professional espionage skills, and then sent him back to China for intelligence gathering.   

Photo: Intelligence funds, spy tools and maps discover from Australian spies

The spying activities against China by Australian security intelligence agencies mainly include sending spies to China to incite defection and collect intelligence, according to the source.   

The source told the Global Times that Australian security intelligence agencies set up a Beijing intelligence station in the Australian Embassy in China, and this station is the most senior level one in East Asia, which also serves as a junction center to manage Australia's espionage activities in other countries in the region such as Japan, South Korea and Mongolia. 

Australian security intelligence agencies have deployed multiple intelligence officers in the station and they have status as Australian diplomats in China (which means they have diplomatic immunity), and their missions in China also include inciting defections, intelligence gathering and cross-linking.

The source said Australian security intelligence agencies conduct espionage activities in China very carefully and cautiously. They tried to escape from China's counterespionage operations by using various sophisticated spying devices, but still, "the approaches that they thought to be reliable and sophisticated also leaked out during China's investigation," the source said.

Wiretaps in the embassy  

Australian security intelligence agencies have, in recent years, increased espionage activities and surveillance against Chinese institutions and their employees in Australia, including engaging and interrupting local Chinese to force them to spy on local Chinese communities and the Chinese Embassy, and even instigated local Chinese to become their informants to return to China for intelligence gathering or attempted to infiltrate Chinese Embassy and consulates in Australia.  

Feng Chongyi, a Chinese Australian "scholar" at the University of Technology Sydney, was an informant to Australian security intelligence agencies, and he provided much information regarding China to Australian security intelligence agencies, and also played the role of a "China studies expert" to stigmatize and smear China on some anti-China foreign media outlets, the source said.

Australian security intelligence agencies' espionage activities against China can be traced back to the 1980s-1990s. At that time, Australian security intelligence agencies used the construction of a new Chinese Embassy as a chance to deploy different types of covert listening devices, including seismic wiretaps and high and low frequency electromagnetic induction devices all over the embassy, the source noted. China and Australia established formal diplomatic ties in 1972.

After the construction of the building was completed, the relevant Chinese department found covert listening devices inside almost every floor and wall, and even the basement. Given the situation, China had to build a new embassy in Australia. According to the source, Australian intelligence agencies are still conducting espionage against the Chinese Embassy and consulates in the country.

Photo: The eavesdropping device found at the Chinese Embassy in Australia

Australian intelligence agencies also launched an investigation against their own politicians who displayed friendly attitudes toward China recently while bilateral ties were worsening. 

According to the Sydney Morning Herald on Friday, the Australian federal police - as part of a joint investigation with the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) - raided the Sydney home of the New South Wales upper house Labor MP Shaoquett Moselmane on Friday morning "searching for evidence to support allegations of a Chinese government plot to influence a serving politician."

Photo: The eavesdropping device found at the Chinese Embassy in Australia

The MP held a friendly stance on China publicly and has come under scrutiny for his recent praise of China's successful handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the report said.

The Australian Institute of International Affairs published an article in September 2019 saying that the Pine Gap satellite surveillance base jointly used by Australia and the US is also spying on China. The article says "Pine Gap is fully integrated into the US military's 'kill chain.' It directs drones and missiles onto targets in the Middle East and elsewhere. As a CIA base, it can also eavesdrop on all Australian telephone calls."

The source with the Chinese law-enforcement agency noted that "when Australia continually conducts espionage operations against China, it also accuses China of 'espionage.' That's a typical practice of 'a thief crying stop a thief'."

Photo: The eavesdropping device found at the Chinese Embassy in Australia

Producing fake news

Apart from espionage activities, Australian security intelligence agencies have even started to influence public opinion and policymaking in the country by expressing views on major issues and feeding fake news to the media, Chen Hong, director of the Australian Studies Center at East China Normal University in Shanghai, told the Global Times.

The alleged "Chinese spy" Wang Liqiang's case in 2019 is a typical example, said Chen. 

Wang's own claim that he was a "Chinese spy" and "defected" to Australian authorities was eventually proven to be false.

"If Wang defected to Australia as he claimed, he must be in contact with Australian security intelligence agencies and wouldn't be allowed to talk to the media. But how could he get in touch with the media? The only scenario that makes sense is that Australian security intelligence agencies knew he is a swindler but intended to let him talk to the media to spread anti-China or sinophobic sentiment to the public," Chen said.

"Fake news is not important anymore. As long as Wang could help them create an atmosphere in the country to show that 'Chinese spies are threatening Australia's national security,' the Australian security intelligence agencies will make no comment on the case," Chen noted.

Unprecedented hostility 

The source of the Chinese law-enforcement agency noted that Australia has added more weight to its espionage activities targeting China.

"Australian security intelligence agencies have increased their budgets and strengthened the construction of espionage intelligence networks against China," the source said. 

Canberra made such moves because China's rise has put pressure on it, and as a member of the Five Eyes Alliance, Australia feels it has the "responsibility" to collect Chinese intelligence and share it with other "Five Eyes" allies, Chinese analysts said.

In fact, Australia is not content with merely being a loyal follower of the US, but wants to make its own decisions, such as announcing a boycott against Chinese 5G telecom giant Huawei, and it even tried to convince other countries to follow, Chen noted.

Chen added that on the one hand, Canberra wants to enjoy the benefits brought by the rise of China; on the other, Australia is a typical "Indo-Pacific nation" and wants to use US President Donald Trump and his administration's Indo-Pacific strategy to make itself more important to the US and the West in a competition with China.

This is why Australia is nervous, panicking and self-contradicting when dealing with China. In recent years, due to the impact of ideological elements and the worsening of China-US relations, the anti-China conservative forces are becoming increasingly influential in misguiding China-Australia relations, Chinese analysts said.

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