Malcolm Turnbull, Bill Shorten are in step with meddling China

Malcolm Turnbull, Bill Shorten are in step with meddling China, by Greg Sheridan.

All those antique commentators who regularly call for a more independent Australian foreign policy — as though the mere fact of the US alliance compromises our independence — should realise that there is only one country that tries seriously to intimidate Australia in its national decisions. And it is not the US. …

It is our national good fortune that Turnbull and Shorten both are solid citizens on national security. …

No one in mainstream Australian politics is remotely anti-China. Everyone wants the best and most intimate engagement with China that is possible.

However, China provides us with significant policy problems like no other. … The problems arise … from those aspects of Beijing’s behaviour that are coercive, illegal internationally, against commonly accepted international norms and that transgress our sovereignty.

We need to bring together, conceptually and intellectually, the big signals we have received over the past few months.

First, there was the retirement speech at the National Press Club by outgoing Defence Department secretary Dennis Richardson. He … told us inter alia that China was the author of the biggest espionage effort against Australia of any power today. He said this was partly in the cyber area but went way beyond cyber. He alluded to the efforts China made to manipulate — for political ends — the diaspora here, especially students. …

Chinese figures, assessed by ASIO to be working hand in glove with the Chinese government, are offering massive donations to political parties and in one case at least allegedly tying a donation of several hundred thousand dollars to support for, or at least not rejecting, Beijing’s policy in the South China Sea. …

As well, Chinese government-aligned companies are offering extraordinarily lucrative consultancies and business opportun­ities to former cabinet ministers and other Australian political leaders moments after they leave office.

Further, it is clear that Chinese diplomatic establishments are putting a huge effort into monitoring and actively manipulating Chinese students here. This is not just to prevent criticism but to get these students active in support of Beijing’s foreign policy in political campaigns here. …

Beyond that, the Four Corners-Fairfax revelations also include clear political, financial and even security intimidation of that tiny element of the Chinese language press not already under the influence of Chinese agencies. …

hat-tip Stephen Neil