ASIO annual report implies Chinese spies are threatening families of foreign nationals, seducing MPs

ASIO annual report implies Chinese spies are threatening families of foreign nationals, seducing MPs 2
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Chinese spies are monitoring foreign nationals in Australia and even physically threatening them to remain silent, a spy agency report has suggested.

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The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the domestic spy agency, has predicted espionage and foreign interference will replace terrorism as Australia’s principal threat within the next five years.

ASIO’s annual report, last week tabled in both houses of federal Parliament, made five references to separate Islamic terror groups but didn’t explicitly mention China – not even once. 

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However, it talked extensively about foreign interference by ‘multiple countries’ describing interference attempts as ‘unacceptably high’.

‘These attempts occur on a daily basis,’ the report said. 

‘They are sophisticated and wide-ranging. They are enabled and accelerated by technology. And they take place in every state and territory, targeting all levels of government, as well as industry and academia.’ 

Chinese spies are monitoring foreign nationals in Australia and even physically threatening them to remain silent, a spy agency report has implied (pictured is Chinese President Xi Jinping)

Chinese spies are monitoring foreign nationals in Australia and even physically threatening them to remain silent, a spy agency report has implied (pictured is Chinese President Xi Jinping)

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Chinese spies are monitoring foreign nationals in Australia and even physically threatening them to remain silent, a spy agency report has implied (pictured is a group of Chinese university students in Australia)

Chinese spies are monitoring foreign nationals in Australia and even physically threatening them to remain silent, a spy agency report has implied (pictured is a group of Chinese university students in Australia)

Chillingly, ASIO said foreign governments spied on nationals living in Australia.

‘They are monitoring diaspora communities in Australia and, in some cases, threatening to physically harm members of these communities,’ it said.

ASIO also warned about foreign governments getting cosy with former members of parliament and high-level public servants.

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‘Foreign spies are attempting to obtain classified information about Australia’s trade relationships, defence and intelligence capabilities,’ it said.

‘They are seeking to develop targeted relationships with current and former politicians, and current and former security clearance holders.’

ASIO’s director-general of security Mike Burgess said foreign spies operated without ethical boundaries.

‘We out-imagined and out-manoeuvred sophisticated foreign adversaries who are effectively unconstrained by law, ethics and resources,’ he said. 

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ASIO's annual report, last week tabled in both houses of federal Parliament, made five references to separate Islamic terror groups but didn't explicitly mention China - not even once (pictured are People's Liberation Army troops at Tiananmen Square in September 2021)

ASIO’s annual report, last week tabled in both houses of federal Parliament, made five references to separate Islamic terror groups but didn’t explicitly mention China – not even once (pictured are People’s Liberation Army troops at Tiananmen Square in September 2021)

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the domestic spy agency, has predicted espionage and foreign interference will replace terrorism as Australia's principal threat within the next five years (pictured is Melbourne's Bourke Street Islamist terror attack in November 2018)

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the domestic spy agency, has predicted espionage and foreign interference will replace terrorism as Australia’s principal threat within the next five years (pictured is Melbourne’s Bourke Street Islamist terror attack in November 2018)

Under Chinese President Xi Jinping, Chinese nationals living in Australia have been even more active in United Front Work Department groups, arms of the Chinese Communist Party which seek to control the vast Chinese diaspora.

Sam Dastyari’s career as a Labor senator for New South Wales ended in January 2018 after it was revealed he had ties to Chinese Communist Party-linked property billionaire Huang Xiangmo, who was key figure in one of these front groups.

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Mr Huang had been a leader of the Australian Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China, a group opposed to Taiwan remaining independent of China, and in 2013 he donated $1.8million over three years to the University of Technology Sydney so it could establish the Australian China Relations Institute.

A UTS spokesman previously said ACRI was an ‘independent, non-partisan research institute’ and noted its staff had expressed views critical of China. 

The Australian Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China, a group opposed to Taiwan remaining independent of China, is one such organisation

 The Australian Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China, a group opposed to Taiwan remaining independent of China, is one such organisation

In 2016, Mr Huang promised the Labor Party a $400,000 donation if it changed its policy on the disputed South China Sea.

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Mr Dastyari’s held a media conference for Chinese-language publications contradicting the ALP’s South China Sea position, and was secretly recorded at Mr Huang’s Mosman mansion on Sydney’s lower north shore advising him his phone might be bugged.

Mr Huang, the head of the Yuhu property group, in 2019 was effectively banned from re-entering Australia, had his citizenship bid blocked and his permanent residency rescinded. 

He had been photographed with high-level politicians from both major parties, including former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and former foreign minister Julie Bishop at various functions.

In his 2018 book Silent Invasion: China’s Influence in Australia, academic Clive Hamilton detailed how Chinese student organisations operated as a front for the Chinese Communist Party.

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Chinese Communist Party-linked property billionaire Huang Xiangmo has been photographed with former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Turnbull

Chinese Communist Party-linked property billionaire Huang Xiangmo has been photographed with former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Turnbull

Until April 2019, former Labor prime minister Paul Keating was an international advisory board member of the state-owned China Development Bank, with his image even featuring on the Communist Party linked group's website

Until April 2019, former Labor prime minister Paul Keating was an international advisory board member of the state-owned China Development Bank, with his image even featuring on the Communist Party linked group’s website

‘Aggression, threats, money and other favours are used by Beijing to influence public opinion in Australia from campuses to the halls of power,’ it said.

Until April 2019, former Labor prime minister Paul Keating was an international advisory board member of the state-owned China Development Bank, with his image even featuring on the Communist Party linked group’s website.

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In November that year, Mr Keating accused Australian security agencies of being anti-China.

‘My concern is that what passes for the foreign policy of Australia lacks any sense of strategic purpose,’ he said in a speech to The Australian newspapers Strategic Forum event in Sydney.

‘The whispered word of ‘communism’ of old is now being replaced by the word ‘China’.

In the lead-up to Australia’s May 2019 election, Mr Keating had told the ABC ASIO were ‘nutters’. 

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China's People's Liberation Army has significantly updated its military hardware since this 1999 image was taken at Tiananmen Square a decade after the Tiananmen Square massacre

China’s People’s Liberation Army has significantly updated its military hardware since this 1999 image was taken at Tiananmen Square a decade after the Tiananmen Square massacre

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