Canberra/Beijing : ‘Just as modern China is firm on the stand of national sovereignty, in the same way China must respect the sovereignty of other nations; which includes Australia as well.’ With these scorching words, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull criticized China. Only recently has the Australian media exploded with the secret information about China’s growing interference and influence in Australia. As a response to these reports, Prime Minister Turnbull gave this sharp warning to China.
After an investigative study of nearly 5 months, Australia’s ‘Fairfax Media’ and the ‘ABC News’ presented a program featuring China’s growing influence. Besides Australian politics how China is interfering in different other sections of Australian life has been displayed in a program named ‘Power and Influence: How China’s Communist party is infiltrating Australia’. The focus of the program was on the donations received by the Australian political parties from the Chinese businessmen and companies.
However, at the same time shocking facts were brought to light of how China has been trying to gain control over Australia’s educational sector, on Chinese students studying in Australia and also on the opinions and commentaries of the citizens of Chinese origin, who may talk on political and social events in China. ‘Fairfax Media’ and ‘ABC News’ have claimed that the parents of the Chinese students studying in Australia are being threatened in China. Similarly attention was drawn to the arrest and forceful pressurization in China, of a Professor of Chinese descent, working in an Australian University.
It has been revealed that tycoons Huang Xiangmo and ChauChak Wing who are billionaires, and also linked to the Chinese ruling Communist Party had given millions of dollars as donations to major political parties in Australia. In an incident relating to this, an Australian senator Sam Dastyari was forced to give resignation last year. Prior to this, in the year 2015, Australia’s intelligence agency had warned the political parties not to accept any donations from Xiangmo and Wing.
However, instances of receiving donations from the Chinese businessmen, by the political parties and for other programmes, are being continued. It has been reported that a donation of two and a half million dollars has been received by a leading educational institution in Australia, from a Chinese tycoon. The Chinese attempts to interfere in the political and social sectors of Australia are believed to be a part of the Chinese government’s ‘Soft Power Propaganda’.
US has frequently expressed its concern over the growing influence of China in Australia. In an interview last year, the former US Ambassador to Australia, John Berry had conveyed his country’s severe objection to donations received by the Australian political parties from the Chinese companies and its capacity to influence government decisions and the media.
The former US Intelligence Chief James Clapper, has made a request that Australia should review its policy of receiving oversea donations by the Australian political parties can be considered legal. Clapper has claimed that the ongoing movements of China in Australia and the attempts made by Russia in US are similar in nature.
Meanwhile, China’s reactions to the conflict arisen in Australia over the Chinese interference, has been fiery. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said that the allegations made by the Australian media are baseless and not worth refuting. At the same time indicated that such instances could affect the bilateral relationship between the two. China has been Australia’s biggest trading partner and in the year 2015, the investments by China and Honk Kong in Australia had gone up to 160 billion dollars.