‘Predatory’ Beijing Focusing on Australia Resources and Wealth: Former MI6 Boss

Beijing has set its “predatory” eyes on Australia’s wealth and land, the former head of British intelligence service MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, has warned. Dearlove, who ran the spy agency from 1999 to 2004, said Australia’s untapped wealth and resources were very attractive to the Beijing. “China is eyeing this continent in a very, I think, predatory fashion,” Dearlove said on the One Decision podcast on Feb. 14. “And [China] has paid, when we weren’t really paying attention ourselves, huge attention strategically and politically, to Australia.” What makes Australia so strategically significant, he said, was its geographic location, resource-rich lands, and also its valuable contribution to the western world’s intelligence capabilities via Australia’s expertise in monitoring and intercepting the communications of countries like China and Russia. Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6, leaves the High Court after giving testimony in an inquest in London, UK, on Feb. 20, 2008. (Cate Gillon/Getty Images) Dearlove said Australians were not solely reliant on U.S. intelligence services and had developed their own “sophisticated” intelligence service in the security community. “So it’s not just through geography, you know, they have become important contributors as their community has matured and developed, and are very important in the Indo-Pacific region as a whole,” he said. The comments from Dearlove came on the back of an interview with Australia’s former foreign minister, Julie Bishop, who noted that western countries had been wrong in their earlier assessments of the CCP’s threat to the world. “When you think back to 2001 when China joined the World Trade Organisation, that was a milestone, but it was also a moment when I think, collectively, the Western liberal democracies believed that China was becoming like they were. That China was opening its markets and that therefore, opening its economy and that political reform would follow,” Bishop said. “But all the while, China was becoming more and more economically powerful and less and less open, in the political sense. I mean, China was moving away from any democratic reform, not moving towards it,” she said. Bishop also called out the Beijing and Moscow for their lack of responsibility to the international community. Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop speaks during a press conference at the Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) at the Hoover Institution on the campus of Stanford University in Stanford, California, on July 24, 2018,. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) “I always find that ironic given that China is a permanent member of the Security Council of the United Nations and has a particular responsibility, I believe, to uphold the international law and the norms and protocols from the United Nations. But nevertheless, they refuse,” she said. “I used to make the point often to my counterparts in both China and Russia, that as permanent members of the UN Security Council, they have a particular responsibility to uphold peace, stability, and security around the world, and that means committing to and defending the rules-based international order. But it seems that, in both instances, both in the case of Russia and China, they pick and choose both parts that they seek to abide by.” Meanwhile, Dearlove praised the Morrison government’s instincts in calling for an international inquiry into the origins of COVID-19, which he believes resulted from a gain of function experiment that went wrong. “I think its (Australia’s) instincts were right in demanding, you know, that there should be an international inquiry, but of course, they then paid a very high political price for that with the Chinese coming back and really trying to slap them down in a most disgraceful fashion,” he said. “It really took the gloves off in responding to the Australians and threatening them in a quite extraordinary way.” After the Morrison government called for an international inquiry, Beijing subjected Australia to a series of coercive measures, including placing embargoes on goods traded with China, including wine, beer, cotton, beef, honey, timber and lamb, as punishment for the inquiry. The Chinese regime also gave a list of 14 grievances to an Australian newspaper which it said Australia would have to address before diplomatic relations could be normalised. At the time of its release, Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated Australia makes its laws in accordance with its interests and values and “not at the behest of any other nation.” Dearlove said he thought the Beijing’s wolf warrior diplomacy had wholly backfired on the communist regime. “I don’t think that necessarily worked to China’s advantage because it seems to me, it’s sort of forfeited, the manner in which in the past, it benefited from soft power,” he said. Follow Victoria Kelly-Clark is an Australian based reporter who focuses on natio

‘Predatory’ Beijing Focusing on Australia Resources and Wealth: Former MI6 Boss

Beijing has set its “predatory” eyes on Australia’s wealth and land, the former head of British intelligence service MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, has warned.

Dearlove, who ran the spy agency from 1999 to 2004, said Australia’s untapped wealth and resources were very attractive to the Beijing.

“China is eyeing this continent in a very, I think, predatory fashion,” Dearlove said on the One Decision podcast on Feb. 14. “And [China] has paid, when we weren’t really paying attention ourselves, huge attention strategically and politically, to Australia.”

What makes Australia so strategically significant, he said, was its geographic location, resource-rich lands, and also its valuable contribution to the western world’s intelligence capabilities via Australia’s expertise in monitoring and intercepting the communications of countries like China and Russia.

Epoch Times Photo
Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6, leaves the High Court after giving testimony in an inquest in London, UK, on Feb. 20, 2008. (Cate Gillon/Getty Images)

Dearlove said Australians were not solely reliant on U.S. intelligence services and had developed their own “sophisticated” intelligence service in the security community.

“So it’s not just through geography, you know, they have become important contributors as their community has matured and developed, and are very important in the Indo-Pacific region as a whole,” he said.

The comments from Dearlove came on the back of an interview with Australia’s former foreign minister, Julie Bishop, who noted that western countries had been wrong in their earlier assessments of the CCP’s threat to the world.

“When you think back to 2001 when China joined the World Trade Organisation, that was a milestone, but it was also a moment when I think, collectively, the Western liberal democracies believed that China was becoming like they were. That China was opening its markets and that therefore, opening its economy and that political reform would follow,” Bishop said.

“But all the while, China was becoming more and more economically powerful and less and less open, in the political sense. I mean, China was moving away from any democratic reform, not moving towards it,” she said.

Bishop also called out the Beijing and Moscow for their lack of responsibility to the international community.

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop speaks during a press conference at the Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) at the Hoover Institution on the campus of Stanford University on July 24, 2018 in Stanford, California. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis are participating in the two-day AUSMIN forum at Stanford University. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop speaks during a press conference at the Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) at the Hoover Institution on the campus of Stanford University in Stanford, California, on July 24, 2018,. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“I always find that ironic given that China is a permanent member of the Security Council of the United Nations and has a particular responsibility, I believe, to uphold the international law and the norms and protocols from the United Nations. But nevertheless, they refuse,” she said.

“I used to make the point often to my counterparts in both China and Russia, that as permanent members of the UN Security Council, they have a particular responsibility to uphold peace, stability, and security around the world, and that means committing to and defending the rules-based international order. But it seems that, in both instances, both in the case of Russia and China, they pick and choose both parts that they seek to abide by.”

Meanwhile, Dearlove praised the Morrison government’s instincts in calling for an international inquiry into the origins of COVID-19, which he believes resulted from a gain of function experiment that went wrong.

“I think its (Australia’s) instincts were right in demanding, you know, that there should be an international inquiry, but of course, they then paid a very high political price for that with the Chinese coming back and really trying to slap them down in a most disgraceful fashion,” he said. “It really took the gloves off in responding to the Australians and threatening them in a quite extraordinary way.”

After the Morrison government called for an international inquiry, Beijing subjected Australia to a series of coercive measures, including placing embargoes on goods traded with China, including wine, beer, cotton, beef, honey, timber and lamb, as punishment for the inquiry.

The Chinese regime also gave a list of 14 grievances to an Australian newspaper which it said Australia would have to address before diplomatic relations could be normalised.

At the time of its release, Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated Australia makes its laws in accordance with its interests and values and “not at the behest of any other nation.”

Dearlove said he thought the Beijing’s wolf warrior diplomacy had wholly backfired on the communist regime.

“I don’t think that necessarily worked to China’s advantage because it seems to me, it’s sort of forfeited, the manner in which in the past, it benefited from soft power,” he said.


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Victoria Kelly-Clark is an Australian based reporter who focuses on national politics and the geopolitical environment in the Asia-pacific region, the Middle East and Central Asia.