Australia’s Attorney-General Christian Porter is currently bringing before the Australian parliament two bills that are very important and necessary for our nation’s safety, sovereignty and future. Both bills, that target activities by China and other foreign states, are designed to strengthen Australia’s counter foreign-interference and espionage apparatus. On 8 June 2018 “The Australian” reported that Mr Porter’s action is based on “intelligence advice of an accelerated escalation in hostile foreign activity over the past 12 months. … [An] intelligence source said that most of the concern about recently increasing activity, including covert operations, was activity linked to the Chinese government”.
Mr Andrew Hastie, MP, chairman of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, recently submitted to Minister Porter a 400 page report with 60 recommendations which underpin the two bills. Mr Hastie, speaking to the “The Australian” newspaper, says “Unchecked, espionage has the potential to significantly reduce Australia’s long term security, and foreign interference could undermine our democracy and threaten the rights and freedoms of our people… The new laws will also … respond to the theft of trade secrets on behalf of foreign state actors”.
Links with Communist Party of China
One major area of concern is the activities of people and organizations operating in Australia that have direct or indirect links to the Communist Party of China and that are acting in its interests. There has been much media coverage of these issues recently. The resignation from the national parliament of (former senator) Sam Dastyari is an example. He resigned after reports surfaced he had received financial benefits from a wealthy Chinese business man and for allegedly warning the business man about the possibility of being under surveillance by an Australian intelligence agency (1).
The focus on China has prompted Mr Lei, China’s consul-general in Perth, WA, to write an opinion piece in “The West Australian” newspaper (7 June 2018) claiming that it is all fake news. He said that the Australian media are “repeatedly fabricating” stories about Chinese infiltration and accused members of parliament of making “irresponsible” comments that have damaged relations with China.
However there is a ton of evidence to show that Mr Lei’s claims are completely without foundation. The matter of Chinese government interference is a complex affair with a long history. A very well-researched book just published by Clive Hamilton provides a catalogue of shocking Chinese infiltration into many important Australian media, educational, business, professional, political and community institutions.
Hamilton begins his book “Silent Invasion, China’s influence in Australia” thus: “When I began researching this book in late 2016 there were a handful of people who argued that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is engaged in a systematic campaign to infiltrate, influence and control the most important institutions in Australia. Its ultimate aim, they said, is to break our alliance with the United States and turn this country into a tribute state. I knew we had a problem, but this seemed far-fetched. As I delved deeply into the problem … the evidence for these claims began to seem robust. … It all began in the middle of August 2004 when China brought together its envoys from around the world for a conclave in Beijing. The Communist Party Secretary Hu Jintao told the gathering that the Party’s all powerful Central Committee had decided that henceforth Australia should be included in China’s ‘overall periphery’.”
A former high ranking Chinese official, Mr Chen, who in 2005 sought political asylum in Australia, told Hamilton that the objectives of Australia being included in China’s ‘overall periphery’ is to secure Australia as a reliable and stable supply base for China, drive a wedge into the America-Australia alliance and woo Australians to be more sympathetic towards China. It was left up to Chinese diplomats in Australia in partnership with government officials in Beijing as to how China could attain “comprehensive influence over Australia economically, politically, culturally, in all ways.” China would use Australia to make concessions on a range of matters, including military affairs and human rights. These would be affected by building personal relationships, “exchange” of information and research, financial incentives, coupled with threats of punishment. The latter is a real weapon due to Australia’s economic dependency on China.
Mr Chen warned: “Essentially, in accordance with their fixed plans, the Communist party of China has begun a structured effort to infiltrate Australia in a systematic way”. Australia and New Zealand are seen “as the weak link in the western camp”. The two countries are “the site for the Chinese party-state to test its methods of infiltration and subversion. He noted that Australia’s openness, relatively small population, large number of Chinese immigrants and commitment to multiculturalism have weakened our capacity to recognise and defend against this threat”.
Hamilton devotes twelve chapters to demonstrate that the above warnings have proven accurate. He provides detailed accounts of Chinese infiltration into and influence upon many Australian institutions and individuals who have assisted. For example, he provides details of very wealthy Chinese businessmen who have contributed large sums of money to political parties, politicians and some universities to buy influence. Another example is the manipulation of Chinese Australian residents by Communist Party officials through incentives and disincentives. Chinese business interests loyal to Beijing have bought up Australian Chinese newspapers and radio stations which now disseminate pro Communist Party propaganda. China seeks not only to influence Chinese Australians to counter and eliminate dissident and critical voices, but to make them and other Australians sympathetic to China and its policies. A further part of the plan is to mobilise and support Chinese Australians sympathetic to the Chinese Communist Party (“Chinese agents”), to stand for parliament and apply for senior government positions.
Wake Up Call
Australia in indebted to Mr Hamilton for researching and writing about this vital matter. His book is highly recommended. It is an eye opener and hopefully a wake-up call for many sleepy Australians. It certainly and loudly confirms the need to upgrade Australia’s counter foreign-interference and espionage legislation and the need to be much more diligent in protecting our sovereignty. It is good to see that our federal government is taking positive steps to address the issue. We should be thankful to Mr Andrew Hastie and the other members of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security for their work in promoting new legislation to counter threats to our nation. Let’s pray that the bills about to be debated in our Federal parliament will be effective. Prayers should also be made for our country’s leaders that they will govern wisely so that our freedoms are protected.
Author: N. Nescio