On Thursday, China said that it was “highly alarmed” over risks to its national security after a state-run newspaper accused Australia of spying on the country and stealing its technology. According to the Global Times, an employee of China’s national security department said to them that Australian intelligence agents “in disguise” acquire information from Chinese people abroad or “even encourage them to subvert China”.
Talking about the report, it’s published on the front page of the nationalistic newspaper and comes several weeks after Beijing rejected accusations of interference in Australian politics. The foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said at a regular briefing that “We are highly alarmed and remain alerted on other countries’ actions to endanger China’s national security and state interests”. “(The report) reminds me that recently the Australian media also played up reports on so-called Chinese spying,” he added. As per the Global Times, the Australian agents closely keep an eye on Chinese people and the embassy countrywide to foil “Chinese spy threats”. “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,” an unidentified staffer said.
The Australian government did not react straight away to the allegations. The article talked about an Australian media report this month that country’s intelligence agencies had key concerns China was interfering with Australian institutions and taking the help of political donations to increase access. According to an investigation by Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Fairfax Media learned that the country’s political high level had been warned two years ago about taking charitable contributions from two billionaires with relations to the Chinese Communist Party. But in spite of being warned by the country’s spy agency both the Liberal and Labor parties continued accepting large sums of money. The probe also revealed that the property developers Huang Xiangmo and Chau Chak Wing or their associates had given around AUS$6.7 million ($5 million) to political parties over 10 years.
Post the report, Canberra announced that it had launched an inquiry into espionage and international government interference. On the other hand, the China’s foreign ministry has called the reports “totally groundless” and stated that the Australian media should not “waste their time on such meaningless and malicious” stories. Many Chinese people have been interviewed or harassed by the Australian intelligence and are forced to give information on Chinese communities and the embassy, the Global Times article said. The report added that some have been sent back to China to “gather information”. The report also accused Australia of “stealing Chinese technology” and installing listening devices in the Embassy of China. However, the China’s national security department could not be contacted for comment as its phone number is not available to the public.