PM Scott Morrison Says China has ‘Form on Foreign Interference’ in Australia

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Saturday that China has “form”—or a record—on foreign interference in Australia and that his government is “very aware” of the influence that Beijing seeks to have in the country.“So any suggestion that China, the Chinese government, doesn’t seek to interfere in Australia—well, we didn’t put that legislation in for no reason,” Morrison told reporters. “We put it in there to ensure that Australians’ security could be safeguarded from foreign influence in our own country,” he added. Morrison was responding to a question regarding Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews’ claim that China might have timed the announcement of its security pact with the Solomon Islands to influence the Australian election outcome. When asked if he agreed that the Solomon Islands-China security pact was timed to coincide with the election, Morrison responded: “All I’m saying is there is form on foreign interference in Australia. That’s why we introduced laws on it.” The Solomon Islands-China security deal, which was signed last week, triggered alarms in the United States and among its allies that Beijing may use the accord to establish a military presence in the region and destabilize the Indo-Pacific. According to a leaked draft of the agreement, Beijing would be able to dispatch police, troops, weapons, and even naval ships—with the consent of the Solomons—to “protect the safety of Chinese personnel and major projects in the Solomon Islands.” Morrison said on April 24 that the prospect of having a Chinese military base in the Solomon Islands would be a “red line” for Australia, calling the security pact a “shared concern” among governments. Australia’s Labor opposition party had blamed the Morrison government for dropping the ball on engagement in the region, saying that it was Australia’s worst foreign policy disaster in the Pacific since World War II. Penny Wong, Labor’s foreign affairs spokesperson, said that under Morrison’s leadership, the region was “less secure” and the risks to Australia far greater. “The government should have acted sooner. We live in a world where the strategic circumstances we face are riskier and more uncertain than in any time since the end of World War II,” she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on April 20. While Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare had claimed that the agreement with China wouldn’t undermine the peace and harmony of the region, Washington said that the “unspecified nature” of the security treaty is alarming as it follows Beijing’s pattern of offering “shadowy” deals to countries. Daniel Y. Teng contributed to this report. Follow Aldgra Fredly is a freelance writer based in Malaysia, covering Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.

PM Scott Morrison Says China has ‘Form on Foreign Interference’ in Australia

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Saturday that China has “form”—or a record—on foreign interference in Australia and that his government is “very aware” of the influence that Beijing seeks to have in the country.

“So any suggestion that China, the Chinese government, doesn’t seek to interfere in Australia—well, we didn’t put that legislation in for no reason,” Morrison told reporters.

“We put it in there to ensure that Australians’ security could be safeguarded from foreign influence in our own country,” he added.

Morrison was responding to a question regarding Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews’ claim that China might have timed the announcement of its security pact with the Solomon Islands to influence the Australian election outcome.

When asked if he agreed that the Solomon Islands-China security pact was timed to coincide with the election, Morrison responded: “All I’m saying is there is form on foreign interference in Australia. That’s why we introduced laws on it.”

The Solomon Islands-China security deal, which was signed last week, triggered alarms in the United States and among its allies that Beijing may use the accord to establish a military presence in the region and destabilize the Indo-Pacific.

According to a leaked draft of the agreement, Beijing would be able to dispatch police, troops, weapons, and even naval ships—with the consent of the Solomons—to “protect the safety of Chinese personnel and major projects in the Solomon Islands.”

Morrison said on April 24 that the prospect of having a Chinese military base in the Solomon Islands would be a “red line” for Australia, calling the security pact a “shared concern” among governments.

Australia’s Labor opposition party had blamed the Morrison government for dropping the ball on engagement in the region, saying that it was Australia’s worst foreign policy disaster in the Pacific since World War II.

Penny Wong, Labor’s foreign affairs spokesperson, said that under Morrison’s leadership, the region was “less secure” and the risks to Australia far greater.

“The government should have acted sooner. We live in a world where the strategic circumstances we face are riskier and more uncertain than in any time since the end of World War II,” she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on April 20.

While Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare had claimed that the agreement with China wouldn’t undermine the peace and harmony of the region, Washington said that the “unspecified nature” of the security treaty is alarming as it follows Beijing’s pattern of offering “shadowy” deals to countries.

Daniel Y. Teng contributed to this report.

Aldgra Fredly

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Aldgra Fredly is a freelance writer based in Malaysia, covering Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.