According to Chen Yonglin, a former Chinese Diplomat, China is engaged in extensive espionage against Australia. Australia’s top defense department official agreed this past week, saying that despite being their top trading partner, they are engaged in extensive espionage to undermine Australia.
“It is no secret that China is very active in intelligence activities directed against us. It is more than cyber,” Dennis Richardson, secretary of the Defence Department, said in a speech in Canberra.
“Likewise, the Chinese government keeps a watchful eye inside Australian Chinese communities and effectively controls some Chinese language media in Australia.”
Much of the information coming into Chinese Intelligence comes from “citizen spies,” who are often just tourists and businessmen who provide information back to China either through debriefings or communications.
“China’s intelligence gathering is pervasive but not overtly intrusive and by and large not breaking any laws, but it is on an industrial scale,” says an expert with connections to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.
“Chinese Australians doing business in China are very susceptible to pressure from the legal system in a way round-eyes aren’t,” says Paul Monk, an intelligence expert and author of Thunder From the Silent Zone: Rethinking China. “They put pressure on Chinese Australians, saying ‘you are ours’.”
This comes even as the two countries have signed an agreement promising to not to engage in Cyberespionage with each other.
In response, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, said he had not heard about Mr. Richardson’s comments, but said that China would like to see the Australian government working to improve bilateral ties and cooperation between their nations.
“We hope that relevant people on the Australian side can say more things that can benefit the development of China-Australia relations, do more to benefit the deepening of cooperation, and not to make irresponsible comments,” Geng said.