Security agencies flag Chinese Manchurian candidates undefined

ASIO director-general Duncan Lewis. Picture: Kym Smith
The Australian12:00AM December 9, 2017

National Security Editor Sydney
Legal affairs correspondentSydney

ASIO has identified about 10 ­political candidates at state and local government elections whom it believes have close ties to Chinese intelligence services, in what sec­urity officials assess as a deliberate strategy by Beijing to wield influence through Australian politics.
Days after the Turnbull ­government unveiled a package of measures aimed at cracking down on foreign meddling in ­Australia’s political affairs, fresh ­details are emerging about the ­extent to which political parties have been compromised by ­foreigners, in particular the Chinese government.
Most of those whom security services identified as having close ties to Chinese intelligence ser­vices and the Communist Party were candidates at local government elections, but concerns have been raised about state and federal figures as well.
The Weekend Australian ­understands that at least one of those candidates successfully ­obtained elected office, and ­remains there today.
It is understood that in the case of that politician, ASIO believes his ­relationship with the Chinese ­security services predates his ­election.
ASIO believes the cultivation of political candidates is part of an orchestrated campaign by Beijing to insert agents of influence into Australian parliaments.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull confirmed The Weekend Australian’s report when questioned this morning.
There has been foreign interference in Australian politics,” Mr Turnbull said while campaigning for the Bennelong by-election, citing Labor Senator Sam Dastyari’s ties to a Chinese buisnessman and party donor as “a classic case.”
Malcolm Turnbull in Bennelong today. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
Sources with knowledge of Beijing’s tactics described it as “strategic and deliberate’’.
Much of the concern centres on politics in western Sydney, where parties vie for the support of ethnic constituencies. The extent of the penetration has been described to The Weekend Aus­tralian as being “patchy but deep”.
Political parties are easy ­targets for intelligence services because they are porous and ­simple to join.
On Wednesday, the government unveiled a suite of measures aimed at cracking down on foreign interference, which ASIO has declared is occurring at “unprecedented levels”.
In its annual report this year, ASIO said it had “identified foreign powers clandestinely seeking to shape the opinions of members of the Australian public, media ­organisations and government officials in order to advance their country’s own political objectives.
Ethnic and religious communities in Australia were also the subject of covert-influence ­operations designed to diminish their criticism of foreign ­governments.
These activities — undertaken covertly to obscure the role of foreign government — represent a threat to our sovereignty, the integrity of our national ­institutions and the exercise of our citizens’ rights.”
Neither ASIO nor the Turnbull government named the countries it believed were guilty of meddling in Australia’s affairs, but it is an open secret that the new laws are aimed ­principally at China and, to a ­lesser extent, Russia, which under President Vladimir Putin sees espionage as an extension of state power.
The new measures include a registry of foreign agents, a move designed to provide greater transparency around benign forms of foreign activity, such as lobbying, as well as the creation of the new offence of “unlawful foreign ­interference”, which will target covert, hostile acts.
Taken together, these new measures underscore the concerns that exist around the vulnerability of Australia’s political institutions.
Chen Yonglin, the Chinese diplomat who defected to Australia in 2005, says the Chinese government has been far more brazen in its attempts to mould opinion in Australia than it has elsewhere.
In Australia it seems there’s no limitation at all, the Chinese do it publicly,’’ Mr Chen told The Weekend Australian.
It seems they are above the law in Australia. They are braver than their activity in the US.
In the USA, they have been very cautious.”
Ross Babbage, a former Office of National Assessments analyst and senior fellow at the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment in Washington, said Beijing’s security services were conducting a far-reaching campaign to ­influence and shape opinion in the West.
There is a strategy to recruit and insert and encourage, and to some extent fund, agents of ­influence,’’ Professor Babbage told The Weekend Australian. “We have not seen this type of activity in Australia since the Cold War.’’
The government’s new foreign interference laws coincided with a string of revelations about the ­relationship between Labor senator Sam Dastyari and wealthy Chinese property developer Huang Xiangmo, who paid Senator Dastyari’s legal bill as well as donating sizeable sums of money to both the Labor Party and the Liberal Party.
Senator Dastyari reportedly gave Mr Huang counter surveillance advice, telling him his phone was probably tapped, and publicly deviated from official Labor Party policy on the South China Sea, leading to accusations he had been compromised.
Senator Dastyari stood down as Labor’s deputy chief whip following the revelations and is facing calls to resign from the Senate.
The debate around foreign interference has provoked a furious response from Beijing. In an official statement issued by its embassy in Australia, it described accu­sations of interference as paranoid fabrications.
The relevant reports not only made unjustifiable accusations against the Chinese government, but also unscrupulously vilified the Chinese students as well as the Chinese community in Australia with racial prejudice, which in turn has tarnished Australia’s reputation as a multicultural society,’’ the embassy said.
Some Australian politicians and government officials also made irresponsible remarks to the detriment of political mutual trust between China and Australia.
We categorically reject these allegations.’’

This article is reprinted from other source. Its contents, analysis and conclusions may not reflect those as supported or advocated by AVA

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