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Defector details China interference in Australia

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 01:37s - Published
Defector details China interference in Australia

Defector details China interference in Australia

Australia dealt with two allegations against China over the weekend, one pertaining to a supposed plot to install a Chinese agent in Australia's federal parliament, and the other coming from a Chinese defector who has spoken of Beijing's efforts to meddle in Australia, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Jayson Albano reports.

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An explosive report made waves in Australia on Sunday (November 24), detailing a plot to plant a Chinese agent in Australia's parliament.

The report comes from news show 'Sixty Minutes' - and comes a day after two Australian newspapers reported that a Chinese defector claimed to have been a spy for China, and was seeking asylum with his wife and son.

On Sunday, 'Sixty Minutes' also aired an interview with the defector, who admitted to espionage efforts in Hong Kong and also in Taiwan, an island that China claims as its own, and is holding presidential elections in January.

(SOUNDBITE) (English translation) CHINESE DEFECTOR, WANG "WILLIAM" LIQIANG, SAYING: "Taiwan was the most important work of ours...the infiltration into the media, temples and grassroots organisations." Australia's Intelligence bureau ASIO on Sunday said they were taking the reports seriously.

They also said investigations were already underway, before reports were made public.

On Monday (November 25), Prime Minister Scott Morrison commented on the allegations.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER, SCOTT MORRISON, SAYING: "I'm not going to draw any conclusions about that one way or the other as is appropriate.

What I can say is that Australia is not naive to the threats that it faces more broadly, and I mean more broadly.

[...] I would caution anyone leaping to any conclusions about these matters, that's why we have these agencies.

I'm not, but I do find the allegations troubling and disturbing." Officials at China's embassy in the capital Canberra were not immediately available for comment.

After the reports broke, Chinese media labelled the man who claimed to have been a spy, an 'opportunistic liar' and a 'swindler'.

Morrison said the defector's asylum claim would be assessed on its merits.




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