Beijing’s State-Owned Media Accuses Australia of ‘Espionage Offensive’ Against China

June 29, 2020 Updated: June 29, 2020

China’s state media has claimed Australia is ramping up spying efforts against Beijing just days after Australian intelligence services raided the home and office of a state parliamentarian over allegations of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) influence.

The CCP-run Global Times, a vocal commentator on party-related issues, accused Australia of waging an “intensifying espionage offensive” against China.

The editorial piece claimed Australia has been sending spies to China to gather intelligence and recruit agents. While domestically, Australia is allegedly instigating defections amongst Chinese residents and spying on international students.

The story quoted an anonymous source from a Chinese law enforcement agency, saying Australia tried to install wiretaps in the Chinese embassy in Canberra.

Chinese embassy in Australia
The Chinese Embassy in Australia is seen from a hot air balloon in the capital city of Canberra on March 9, 2013. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Global Times’ claims come just days after the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and Australian Federal Police raided the home and office of New South Wales (NSW) Member of Parliament Shaoquett Moselmane over concerns he was under the influence of the CCP.

A 60 Minutes and Fairfax Media investigation revealed ASIO was looking for evidence on phones and laptops, and there was long-running concern about Moselmane’s pro-Beijing views. In late February he applauded Beijing’s response to COVID-19 telling a gathering at a restaurant in Sydney’s Chinatown:

“It has spread a little, but because it was contained so much in China, that meant that the rest of the world had not been affected as it would if those measures were not taken,” he said.

“So, congratulations to the government … we know who are our friends in crisis.”

In April, Moselmane resigned as assistant president of the NSW upper house for his praises and for lauding Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s “unswerving leadership” during the pandemic.

The 60 Minutes report said Moselmane was only under investigation and the allegations were not confirmed.

The Australian Labor Party moved swiftly to suspend Moselmane’s party membership following news of the raid, while NSW Liberal Treasurer Dominic Perrottet announced a motion on Saturday to suspend Moselmane from the state parliament.

Moselmane on June 29 told AAP reporters he was not a suspect and the raids were related to investigations into other individuals connected with the CCP.

“The federal agents have a job to do and it is imperative that they do their job without state and federal political interference. I am under no illusion that this is a serious investigation, the first of its kind, precedents will be set,” Moselmane said.

“Sadly the political lynching has already commenced,” he added.

Moselmane’s staffer John Zhang is also under investigation.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on June 26 said it was “very concerning” that an investigation was launched into “a very, very long-standing and relatively senior person within the New South Wales Australian Labor Party.”

“But this is an issue that the federal government will not shy away from. It’s very important to our integrity as a country and our security as a nation. We take it very seriously,” he said.