Sun, Dec 10, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Turnbull says Australia will ‘stand up’ to Chinese meddling in national policy

The Guardian

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull attends a ceremony to commemorate the repatriation of the Long Tan Cross at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra on Wednesday.

Photo: EPA

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday hit back at China over the issue of foreign interference, speaking Mandarin and invoking a famous Chinese slogan to declare Australia will “stand up” against meddling in its national affairs.

Beijing issued a stinging rebuke of Turnbull on Friday, saying his allegations of Chinese Communist Party interference had “poisoned” the atmosphere of bilateral relations and undermined mutual trust.

However, Turnbull stood his ground yesterday, using strong language to reject the criticism and maintain that there was evidence of foreign interference.

Switching between Mandarin and English, Turnbull said: “Modern China was founded in 1949 with these words: ‘The Chinese people have stood up.’ It was an assertion of sovereignty, it was an assertion of pride... And we stand up and so we say: The Australian people stand up.”

Turnbull was referring to a slogan often linked to Mao Zedong (毛澤東), who is said to have uttered the words in Tiananmen Square on Oct. 1, 1949.

However, some experts have said that Mao never spoke those words.

Beijing has lodged a “serious complaint” with Australia over the allegations of Chinese interference.

During a regular briefing on Friday, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang (耿爽) expressed shock at Turnbull’s remarks during a parliamentary debate on Australia’s new foreign interference laws this week.

“We are astounded by the relevant remarks of the Australian leader,” Geng said, according to The Associated Press. “Such remarks simply cater to the irresponsible reports by some Australian media that are without principle and full of bias against China.

“It poisons the atmosphere of the China-Australia relationship and undermines the foundation of mutual trust and bilateral cooperation. We express strong dissatisfaction with that and have made a serious complaint with the Australian side,” Geng said.

Turnbull introduced the foreign interference laws to parliament on Thursday.

The laws ban foreign donations and require former politicians, executives and lobbyists who work for foreign interests to register if they intend to attempt to influence Australian politics.

Under the proposed legislation, it would become a crime for a person to act on behalf of a foreign principal to influence a political or governmental process in a manner that is either covert or involves deception.

Turnbull spoke of China while introducing the legislation to the lower house.

“Media reports have suggested that the Chinese Communist Party has been working to covertly interfere with our media, our universities and even the decisions of elected representatives right here in this building,” he said. “We take these reports very seriously.”

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