China interfered in Australian politics — secret probe

Investigation ordered by Turnbull revealed decade-long infiltration campaign

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, center, welcomes Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to Beijing in 2016. Accusations of espionage and political meddling have brought ties to their “lowest level.” © Getty Images

MELBOURNE — A secret Australian investigation uncovered a campaign by China to infiltrate the country’s major political parties, a news outlet has reported, in the latest allegation of Chinese interference likely to strain relations between the trading partners.

The probe ordered by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull revealed a decade-long effort by the Chinese Communist Party to compromise Australia’s political process and influence policymaking, 9 News reported on Monday.

The findings of the review by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet reportedly prompted Turnbull’s proposal last year of pending anti-foreign interference laws that have tested ties with Beijing.

Turnbull unveiled the new laws — which would ban foreign political donations, expand the definition of espionage and create a register of foreign lobbyists — while warning of attempts by “foreign powers” to influence Australian democracy. While insisting the legislation was not aimed at a specific country, Turnbull, the leader of the center-right Liberal Party, cited reports of alleged Chinese interference as a justification for the legislation.

Beijing blasted Turnbull’s remarks at the time as catering to “irresponsible reports by some Australian media that are without principle and full of bias against China.”

Separately, Fairfax Media reported on Monday that former Foreign Minister Bob Carr, who leads a think tank established by a businessman…

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