Australian leader decries China’s interference

Published May 1, 2022
In this file photo, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra on Nov 12, 2020. — AP/File
In this file photo, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra on Nov 12, 2020. — AP/File

SYDNEY: Australia’s prime minister accused China on Saturday of “form”, or a record, on interference in foreign politics, after his home minister said Beijing’s unveiling of a security deal with the nearby Solomon Islands was timed to influence an election.

With most polls showing Scott Morrison’s conservative coalition headed for a loss in the May 21 election, it has sought to highlight its national security credentials, such as a tough approach to China.

“We are very aware of the influence the Chinese government seeks to have in this country,” Morrison told reporters in Tasmania. “There is form on foreign interference in Australia.”

He was replying to a query about evidence for a radio statement by Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews that the timing of China’s revelation of its recent Solomon’s deal was a form of foreign interference in Australia’s election.

China has said the pact was not targeted at any third party and urged Australia to “respect the sovereign and independent choices made by China and the Solomons”.

News of the security pact with the Pacific nation sparked concerns at the prospect of a Chinese military presence less than 2,000 km (1,200 miles) from Australian shores, casting the national security efforts of Morrison’s coalition in poor light.

After Australia’s opposition Labour party this week called the deal a national security failure by Canberra, Morrison’s government has toughened its remarks.

He cited a ban on foreign political donations and a register of foreign representatives, saying, “Any suggestion that the Chinese government doesn’t seek to interfere in Australia, well, we didn’t put that legislation in for no reason.”

In the Solomon Islands a day earlier, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told parliament the country would not participate in any militarisation in the Pacific, and had signed the China deal as a security pact with Australia was inadequate.

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

No end to hostility
Updated 17 Aug, 2022

No end to hostility

It is time for all parties to rise above petty tactics and hostilities for political gains and pull country back from brink.
Deadly accidents
17 Aug, 2022

Deadly accidents

TWO horrific accidents on Tuesday, which resulted in high death tolls, illustrate the dangers people face while ...
New banknote
17 Aug, 2022

New banknote

PAKISTAN has a new currency note to mark the diamond jubilee of independence. The 75-rupee banknote, issued by the...
Shared goals
Updated 16 Aug, 2022

Shared goals

It is high time that all parties realise that negotiation on the economy does not need to be held hostage to political rivalries.
Making amends?
16 Aug, 2022

Making amends?

WHERE relations with the US are concerned, there has been a distinct shift in Imran Khan’s tone. While the PTI...
Hazardous celebration
16 Aug, 2022

Hazardous celebration

CAN celebratory actions that often result in death or lifelong injuries really be described as such? Be it Eid, New...