The China-Australia Row

Not all nations go along with each other very well. Others are civil while a few are at war. Our modern world is continually in conflict with one another albeit in a subtle way. World War 3 may not have been declared yet but various wars and conflicts are happening all over the globe without the knowledge of everybody. Even the bigger and more powerful nations aren’t exempt and are in a row now with one another for various reasons too.

Aside from news on terror attacks and more terror attacks happening in different nations the world over, conflicts over political espionage is arising between the superpower that is China and the continent nation of Australia from down under. Any nation, no matter how big or economically prosperous it is, has to interact with other nations for trade or for other reasons. That’s how global modern life works but chaos ensues when this sense of balance is tarnished. The truth is, 34% of Australian exports (energy products and services and animal produce) go to China. Even the Chinese likes to invest in the Australian market with over $80-billion in investments over the past ten years.

Australia is reviewing its espionage laws and banning foreign political donations over concerns that China is buying influence by using rich businessmen to funnel millions of dollars in donations to political parties.  “Just as modern China was based on an assertion of national sovereignty, so China should always respect the sovereignty of other nations, including, of course, our own,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters on Tuesday.  Many other western nations, including the US and UK, prohibit foreign political donations, and Washington has expressed concern both over Chinese meddling in Australian politics and the role of a wealthy diaspora in Beijing’s drive to project soft power overseas.


Despite their seemingly long-standing economic ties, conflict is brewing between the two nations with issues of political espionage over Chinese political donations to the Liberal and Labor parties amounting to roughly A$6.7 million. Australia wants to maintain the integrity of the electoral system and take seriously issues involving foreign interference in the country’s electoral processes through monetary donations, which China has been found to be guilty of doing for quite some time now.

Nine months ago, Peter Hartcher, the international editor of the Fairfax-owned Sydney Morning Herald, published a provocative article calling for action against “foreign manipulation” in Australia by alleged pro-Chinese government “rats, flies, mosquitoes and sparrows.” Under conditions of immense war dangers on the Korean peninsula and flaring tensions between China and the US and its allies over strategic influence in Asia, last September’s anti-Chinese campaign is resurfacing to the centre of Australian political life.

The state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and Fairfax’s newspapers—the so-called “liberal” wing of the Australian media—are conducting a joint “investigation” into “how China’s Communist Party is secretly infiltrating Australia.” Last night, the ABC’s current affairs’ program “Four Corners” was dedicated to sensationalist claims that the Chinese regime is seeking to exert clandestine “power and influence” over Australian politics and foreign policy.

Top journalists from both outlets, including Melbourne Age foreign affairs’ writer Daniel Flitton, a former intelligence analyst, and the ABC’s political editor, Chris Uhlmann, are conducting the investigation. And they make no secret of the fact that they are serving as the direct conduit for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), which is repeatedly cited as their primary source of information.


While these political espionage issues remain to be allegations, you can’t deny the strengthening of ties between America and Australia may also be a factor here. We all know that China and the US aren’t on good terms, so to say. However, a brewing war between China and Australia will not only hurt the latter’s economy but prove to be disastrous to many of the Chinese-Australians and Chinese citizens living down under.

Australia takes their sovereignty seriously just like China does. The government aims to review and make amendments to their existing espionage and foreign interference laws this 2017 to ensure that no foreign influence can dictate the Australian government anytime soon.

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