Senior Australian minister says China is behaving badly

By Colin Packham

A senior Australian government minister said on Friday China was behaving in a way that was inconsistent with Australian values by targeting political parties and universities in Australia, drawing a sharp rebuke from China's embassy.

Relations between the important trading partners have deteriorated in recent years amid accusations that China is meddling in Australian domestic affairs and Australian fears that China is seeking undue influence in the Pacific region.

Australian lawmakers had sought to improve the relationship by refraining from public criticism of China but Peter Dutton, the minister for home affairs, said Australia would not be silent despite their commercial relations.

China is Australia's largest trading partner, with bilateral trade worth more than A$180 billion ($122 billion) last year.

"We have a very important trading relationship with China – incredibly important," Dutton told reporters in Canberra.

"But we are not going to allow university students to be unduly influenced, we are not going to allow theft of intellectual property, and we are not going to allow our government bodies or non-government bodies to be hacked into," he said.

China's embassy in Canberra called the remarks "irrational... shocking and baseless" in a statement on its website, adding that they constituted "an outright provocation to the Chinese people".

"Such ridiculous rhetoric severely harms the mutual trust between China and Australia and betrays the common interests of the two peoples," the embassy said.

China has previously denied any improper activities, accusing Australia of adopting a "Cold War mentality".

Reuters reported this month that Australian intelligence had determined China was responsible for a cyber-attack on the national parliament and three largest political parties before a general election in May, according to five people with direct knowledge of the matter.

China's Foreign Ministry denied involvement in any hacking attacks and said the internet was full of theories that were hard to trace.

The attack on Australia's parliament and political parties came as hackers were also targeting its most prestigious university, an official report by the Australian National University (ANU) showed, which stoked fears that China could influence research and students.

The ANU said last week its investigators were unable to identify who was responsible for the cyber-attack.

Foreign students are worth about A$35 billion a year to the Australian economy, with Chinese students accounting for about a third of that figure.

Australian universities are financially dependent on overseas students, raising fears that foreign governments could exert undue influence.

As a result, Australian universities will now be required to work with security agencies to ensure they guard against undue foreign interference.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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China has slowly been invading other countries by buying stakes in huge conglomerates in exchange for cheap labor and a part of the Chinese market. Now with the recent internet backlash on Southpark, NBA and Blizzard people are realizing that China has more power than people expected and China can get away with it. The sooner companies get less reliant on China the better, but people don't wanna give up that money.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Not according to Google, Apple, and Greta.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

It would seem that the only way China knows how to react is to over-react.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Just as China views the seas around them as theirs, maybe China also view the islands and lands within those seas as belonging to China as well.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

When China stops its cold war actions, others can stop their cold war mentality. China needs to respect other nations. Sadly Xi wants China to be the strongest nation in the world with all other nations subservient to its wishes. Australia can see through the facade and wants none of it. Other nations need to see the truth also.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Jeez, China, North Korea and South Korea are sounding more and more like one another every day. They should just start their own exclusive trade block, a trade block of misery.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

China has slowly been invading other countries by buying stakes

I remember the good old days when an invasion was a huge gang of men with guns and missiles etc killing people and when it was certain countries doing it, it was given a pass. But gee whiz....its China this time so lets call buying "an invasion" and have a panic attack.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

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