PRIMROSE RIORDANThe Australian3:00PM May 12, 2017
Outgoing Defence Secretary Dennis Richardson has accused China of spying in Australia, particularly on Chinese diaspora communities and of controlling the Chinese language press.
He said while Australia should build relations with China, there were “complexities” and Australia and China were not allies.
“I think Australia’s relationship with China and the United States will continue to be able to be summarised simply — friends with both, allies with one,” he told The National Press Club in Canberra today.
The Australian has recently reported on the increased activity of the Chinese communist party’s United Front Work Department and the Overseas Affairs Office in Australia, as the superpower attempts to exercise ‘soft power’ abroad.
Last year, China reacted angrily to former US ambassador John Berry’s warning that Beijing was using financial donations to influence Australian politicians, accusing the American diplomat of “troublemaking” and acting like a “preacher”.
Mr Richardson said that the Chinese government is actively involved in spying activity directed at Australia and Chinese communities, and controls the Mandarin language press.
“It is no secret that China is very active in intelligence activities directed against us. It is more than cyber,” Mr Richardson
“Likewise, the Chinese Government keeps a watchful eye inside Australian Chinese communities and effectively controls some Chinese language media in Australia.”
He said this interference was unreasonable.
“It would be wrong to suggest that the Chinese Government are the worst offenders. It would be wrong to suggest that they are the first ones to have done it.”
“They do engage in some activities in their communities which I think would be considered unreasonable by most Australians.”
Mr Richardson said “strategic rivals”, the US and China needed to work hard to prevent military conflict.
“Misunderstandings could lead to miscalculation. But both seek to manage their relationship reasonably sensibly and work hard to avoid military conflict with the breadth of dialogue arrangements designed, in part, to minimise this.