Claims of Chinese interference . . .
A man with credible evidence claiming to be a Chinese intelligence operative has defected to Australia and is seeking political asylum. The alleged spy, Wang Liqiang, detailed in a statement and interview how China’s military intelligence agencies use fake companies as fronts to intervene directly in politics in Hong Kong and Taiwan by sponsoring media coverage, infiltrating university groups, and donating to preferred candidates. He also provided details about a specific operation to infiltrate Australia’s parliament by financing the campaign of a Liberal Party member. Australia's national security agency said it was already aware of, and is investigating, the infiltration allegations.
Explosive but disputed account . . .
Wang is reportedly the first Chinese intelligence operative to defect and go public with his identity. This potential defection follows two recent major leaks of official documents exposing the Chinese Communist Party’s rationale for its actions in Xinjiang and the full impact of the associated Uighur detention camps. Wang’s allegations continue to be carefully investigated by journalists and intelligence services, with early evidence seeming to support some claims, while other elements have been challenged and cannot be fully verified due to their complexity. The Chinese government has denied Wang’s allegations, claiming he is a convicted fraudster wanted by the Shanghai police.
Concerning allegations . . .
China’s efforts to advance its interests internationally through a strategy of sharp power have been studied in recent years, but Wang Liqiang’s alleged first-hand account seems to corroborate numerous reports on the topic. Australia’s relations with China have already deteriorated in recent years and this defection will assuredly add another level of complexity to a strained bilateral relationship, especially as Australians debate China’s influence in its politics and society. With a similar debate emerging in Canada, it will be very insightful to follow Canberra’s reactions and to see how this story unfolds in Australia – but also how it impacts Australia-China relations.
- 60 Minutes Australia: Chinese spy spills secrets to expose Communist espionage
- The Sydney Morning Herald: Defections are messy and we may never know the full story
- BBC: Australia investigates alleged Chinese plot to install spy MP