Turnbull government carefully tackles Chinese interference

Turnbull government carefully tackles Chinese interference, by Greg Sheridan.

The Turnbull government has expressed in strong terms its displeasure with the way Chinese diplomats deal with Chinese citizens in Australia.

The Chinese embassy in Canberra has been told by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade that it has no right to harass or threaten any Chinese national in Australia whom Beijing considers to be corrupt or to have taken corruptly obtained wealth out of China. Although the Turnbull government sympathises with Beijing in its wish to prosecute anyone who has illegally moved assets or broken the law in China, it insists the Chinese must operate through the Australian government and our law enforcement agencies.

The chief Chinese intelligence agency, the Ministry of State Security, is very active in Australia, and many things that Beijing does within Australia go beyond the normal bounds of diplomatic behaviour, according to government sources. …

An example of how not to behave:

One of the most publicised incidents occurred at a meeting of the Kimberley Process that Australia hosted in Perth last month. The Kimberley Process is an international group that addresses the trade in conflict diamonds.

Australia, which was chairing the meeting, had invited a Taiwanese diamond trading authority to attend as a guest. This was consistent with previous practice.

Beijing objected to this because it is trying to intimidate Taiwan and strangle its international space.

China had two entirely reasonable courses of action available to it. One was to register its objections to the Taiwanese presence with the Australian government, which it did.

The other was, if it didn’t get the answer it wanted, to refuse to attend the meeting.

Instead, the official Chinese delegation, including Chinese diplomats, shouted down the Aboriginal welcome-to-country ceremony at the start of proceedings, then shouted down the start of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s speech.

They then recruited some African delegates to join in the shouting down until finally the organisers asked the Taiwanese delegation to leave, setting up bilateral meetings for the delegates instead. …

Getup!

It is also the case that third parties — such as GetUp! — do not face even the registration and disclosure obligations of political parties but campaign directly in Australian politics and can receive enormous amounts of foreign funding.