Governments may increase their espionage efforts in China in response to weakening transparency from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership, according to an Australian defence expert.
Michael Shoebridge, director at Strategic Analysis Australia, made the comments as attention focuses on the CCP’s espionage interference overseas.
“As Xi Jinping closes China to foreign journalists and academics and makes it harder for foreign businesses to operate there, there will be an increasing drive by other countries’ government agencies to get sources inside Chinese institutions and organisations,” he wrote in an email to The Epoch Times on Sept. 12.
CCP Spy Found in UK ParliamentThe comments come after a UK Parliament researcher was arrested on suspicions of “spying for China” and is alleged to have fed information to Beijing through his position as a researcher for a member of Parliament.
The report said the man had high-level security clearance and had helped shape the UK’s China policy.
Following the report, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told broadcasters at the G20 summit in New Delhi that he had raised “a range of different concerns” with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, including his “very strong concerns about any interference in [the UK’s] parliamentary democracy, which is obviously unacceptable.”
Australian Policymakers Warn About Foreign InterferenceLabor MP Peter Khalil, the chair of parliament’s intelligence and security committee, has warned Australians to remain “vigilant” against foreign interference.
“People really have to be aware and be vigilant of those attempts,” Mr. Khalil told ABC radio on Sept. 12.
“The security agencies and the intelligence agencies are responsible for the vetting of staff.
“It’s a pretty deep dive ... and that occurs with across departments and the government and the parliament.”
“Unfortunately, the risk of this happening in Australia is very high because the vast majority of staff who work in this building here in Parliament House are not security vetted or cleared in any way,” he told media in Canberra on Sept. 11.
“If you work for a government backbencher, anyone in opposition, including shadow ministers, then you are not required and you’re not able to be security vetted. Only ministerial staff are security vetted.”
Senator Paterson called for a change of the vetting process, at least for MPs who “work on sensitive committees like the Intelligence and Security Committee or the new statutory defence committee, which is going to oversee AUKUS.”
Mr. Khalil said it was an “ongoing conversation” whether there should be an increase in the vetting of staff.
More CCP Espionage to Be Expected: ExpertMichael Shoebridge, the former director of defence at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said more cases of Chinese espionage and political interference should be expected not just in Australia, but across the democratic world.
“Sowing discord and magnifying dissent inside countries, their parliaments, and governments is a tactic that Beijing—and its strategic partner Russia—see as effective and useful, so they will do more of it,” he said.
“Overall, Beijing’s aggressive intelligence gathering and foreign interference activities will continue to be a destabilising factor in Australia and many other nations’ relationships with China—and will disrupt even the most careful attempts at calm and constructive relationship building by showing the dark side of Beijing’s goals and activities.”
“This will reinforce Xi’s mindset around control,” he said.
A spokesman for Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said the government “will always follow security advice from intelligence agencies, including in relation to security vetting.”