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Australia wary of China

Reuters
Thursday, December 07, 2017

SYDNEY - Australia, concerned about rising Chinese influence, will ban foreign political donations as part of a crackdown aimed at preventing external interference in domestic politics, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Tuesday.

Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra that foreign powers were making "unprecedented and increasingly sophisticated attempts to influence the political process" in Australia and the world. He cited "disturbing reports about Chinese influence".

Australia and neighbouring New Zealand are among roughly a third of countries worldwide that allow foreign donations to political parties. Such donations are prohibited in the United States, Britain and several European countries.

Australia's new laws, modelled in part on the US Foreign Agents Registration Act, would criminalise foreign interference and require the registration of lobbyists working for nation states, Mr Turnbull said.

The announcement came as concern grows that Beijing may be extending its influence and as relationships between Australian politicians and Chinese government interests have become increasingly contentious.

Fairfax Media and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported in June on a concerted campaign by China to "infiltrate" Australian politics to promote Chinese interests.

China denies the claims.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said China had no intention of interfering with Australia's internal affairs or using political funding to influence them.

"At the same time, we want to again urge Australia to remove their biases and take an objective and positive attitude to assess China and its relations with Australia," he added.








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