China-Australia relations

Australia ‘spies and steals technology’, Chinese state paper says as war of words flares again

The tabloid Global Times fires back after recent Australian accusations of Chinese influence-buying, saying the country’s media are wasting time on ‘meaningless and malicious’ stories

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 June, 2017, 2:12pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 June, 2017, 2:12pm

A Chinese state-run newspaper fired back on Thursday at recent Australian allegations of influence-buying by Beijing, saying the country spied on China, harassed its citizens and stole its technology.

An unnamed employee of China’s national security department told the Global Times that Australian intelligence agents in disguise collect information from Chinese people overseas or encourage them to subvert China.

Agents also closely monitor Chinese people and the embassy in Australia to foil “Chinese spy threats”, according to the article, published on the newspaper’s front page.

“In global covert struggles, Australia has never played the role of victim,” the unidentified employee was quoted as saying.

“However, they are wantonly working on intelligence about China and groundlessly accusing China of spying on them. The logic is ridiculous.”

The article said Beijing had been forced to rebuild its embassy Canberra in the 1990s after finding a large number of listening devices in the original building.

The Australian government did not immediately respond to the allegations.

Chinese envoy in Australia blasts ‘cash for influence’ claims

The article follows an Australian media report this month that Australia’s intelligence agencies had major concerns China was interfering in Australian institutions and using political donations to gain access.

An investigation by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Fairfax Media found the country’s political elite had been warned two years ago about taking donations from two billionaires with links to the Chinese Communist Party.

But despite being cautioned by the head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the nation’s domestic spy agency, both the Liberal and Labor parties continued accepting substantial sums of cash.

The probe showed that two property developers – Huang Xiangmo, founder of the Yuhu Group, and Chau Chak Wing, an Australian citizen who runs the Kingold Group – or their associates had donated around A$6.7 million (US$5 million) to political parties over a decade.

Following the report, Canberra announced it had launched an inquiry into espionage laws and foreign government interference.

China’s foreign ministry has called the reports “totally groundless” and said Australian media should not “waste their time on such meaningless and malicious” stories.

The Global Times article said many Chinese people have been interviewed or harassed by Australian intelligence and are required to provide information on Chinese communities and the embassy.

Some have been sent back to China to “gather information”, the report said.

It also accused Australia of “stealing Chinese technology” and installing listening devices in China’s embassy.

China’s national security department could not be reached for comment as its phone number is not available to the public.