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Published: Thu, December 07, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

China rebukes Australia over influence debate 'hysteria'

China rebukes Australia over influence debate 'hysteria'

"Foreign powers are making unprecedented and increasingly sophisticated attempts to influence the political process", Turnbull said.

"Foreign interference is a global issue. for example, we're all familiar with very credible reports that Russian Federation sought to actively undermine the United States' election. the threat is real", Turnbull said.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull reportedly said that the country's new laws would ban foreign political donations to avoid external interference in domestic politics, citing "disturbing reports about Chinese influence".

Australia will ban foreign political donations and force lobbyists to reveal when they are working for overseas entities under tough new laws created to tackle growing espionage threats and Chinese influence in domestic politics.

A statement from the Chinese embassy in Australia said allegations first aired in the media of China attempting to increase political influence through donations were "made up out of thin air and filled with a cold war mentality and ideological bias".

The laws would criminalize acts such as Labor Party Sen.

That came after Turnbull ordered an inquiry in June in the wake of media revelations that the nation's spy agency had warned the country's political elite two years ago about taking donations from two billionaires with links to the Chinese Communist Party. It means only Australian organisations and business can influence elections in Australia through donations. This included asking for a Huang-owned company to pay a $1,250 travel bill and giving Huang counter-surveillance advice — saying he and Huang should leave their cellphones inside Huang's house during a meeting previous year while walking and talking outside. Asked about Dastyari, Turnbull said: "Senator Dastyari's solicited money from a Chinese national".

Taken together, the statements indicate China sees new laws proposed by the Coalition to crack down on foreign interference and create a register of foreign agents as directed at it.

Espionage will carry a penalty of up to life in prison.

"A person who has been a cabinet minister within the previous three years must register if she or he acts on behalf of a foreign government, a foreign public enterprise, a foreign business or a foreign political organisation", Senator Brandis said.

Turnbull explained that the reforms would aim to protect and strengthen democracy in Australia and would ensure that Australians make decisions based on their own wishes.

The reforms follow a recommendation from an Australian parliamentary committee last March for a ban on political donations from foreign companies and individuals.

"If GetUp! were to change focus, if they were to stop involvement in political campaigning in the future and become a charity [and] only be involved in non-political activities, then they would be absolutely free to receive and use foreign donations", Senator Cormann said.

Recent discussion about possible Chinese influence has spanned many aspects of Australian society, including politics, education and publishing.

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