China blasts Australia over Turnbull Government's foreign interference laws

China blasts Australia over Turnbull Government's foreign interference laws

China blasts Australia over Turnbull Government's foreign interference laws

People or organizations acting in the interests of foreign powers would be required to register and disclose their ties, Turnbull said, adding that foreign political donations would also be banned.

A statement from the Chinese embassy in Australia said allegations first aired in the media of China attempting to increase political influence through donations were "made up out of thin air and filled with a cold war mentality and ideological bias".

Australian espionage laws have rarely resulted in prosecutions, and while the new laws are created to address such historical impotency, we will need to see the full drafting of the bill to know how effective what comes next might be.

The Prime Minister said the changes, which will be introduced in separate bills, represented the largest overhaul of espionage, counter-intelligence and political donations.

He noted recent "disturbing reports" of Chinese influence, but stressed the laws would not target any one country.

Attorney-General George Brandis clarified the terms, saying anyone who acts covertly on behalf of a foreign actor in a manner that harms Australia's national security or to influence a government decision or a political process will be criminalised, SBS reports.

"Being registered should not be seen as any kind of taint and certainly not as a crime", Turnbull stressed, perhaps conscious of Russian Federation taking umbrage at US registration of its state-run media outlets and classifying a number of American organizations as "foreign agents" in retaliation.

Under the new laws, the offense of espionage will cover not only the passing on of information, but possessing and receiving it as well.

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The register is expected to capture former ministers such as Bob Carr and Andrew Robb.

"Foreign intelligence services are engaged in covert influence and interference on an unprecedented scale", Turnbull said.

Unlike the USA and many other countries that ban foreign donations, Australian law has never distinguished between donors from Australia and overseas.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said activist group GetUp! would need to comply with the transparency scheme and the reporting requirements that apply for political parties.

The Chinese embassy accused "some Australian politicians and government officials" of making "irresponsible remarks to the detriment of political mutual trust between China and Australia".

She said 97 per cent of donations last financial year were under $100 and were sourced from 57,149 individuals.

Australia will ban foreign interference in its politics — either through espionage or financial donations — in a move motivated largely by Russia's alleged involvement in last year's US election and China's growing influence on the global political landscape.

"Similarly, it does not prevent charities from engaging in political activities in Australia, as long as the political expenditure incurred to fund that political activity is raised from Australians". A new Australian company owned by a Chinese renewable energy giant donated $40,000 to the Queensland Liberal National Party last month.

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