Australia to legislate against foreign interference in politics

Parliament celebrates the vote for same-sex marriage

China's embassy in Canberra has sharply criticised Australian politicians and media outlets, saying they have damaged trust between the two nations.

The prime minister said his efforts were not focused on a single malignant foreign power, but he prominently mentioned China and spoke harshly of embattled Senator Sam Dastyari, who resigned from his leadership positions this week over a scandal involving Chinese influence buying.

"Those reports, which were made up out of thin air and filled with cold war mentality and ideological bias, reflected a typical anti-China hysteria and paranoid (sic)".

China scolded Australia on Wednesday over its plan to ban foreign interference in politics - either through espionage or financial donations - in a move motivated largely by Russia's alleged involvement in last year's USA election and China's growing influence on the global political landscape.

In recent days, an audio recording from previous year emerged, in which an opposition Labor Party MP, Mr Sam Dastyari, promised to respect China's position on the territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Australians were familiar with the "very credible reports" that Russian Federation sought to actively undermine and influence the U.S. election, Turnbull said.

"Foreign powers are making unprecedented and increasingly sophisticated attempts to influence the political process", Turnbull told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

"If you act covertly on behalf of a foreign actor, in a way that harms Australia's national security, to influence the political process, or a Government decision, that conduct will be criminalized", Australian Attorney General George Brandis explained.

Ms Bishop said she welcomed China's commitment to ensuring there would not be any illegal interference in Australian political affairs.

Ironically, however, Robb's statements lashing back at his critics and the proposed legislation have already been prominently reported by Xinhua news agency, the Chinese regime's official mouthpiece.

"We have recently seen disturbing reports about Chinese influence", Turnbull said, adding the reforms were not targeted at any one country. It followed scrutiny over his links to a Chinese businessman.

The MP insisted he was passing on gossip rather than official intelligence. One measure, based on an American law, would require lobbyists for other countries to register as agents of a foreign power.

An Australian defence and security expert, Dr Ross Babbage, from the Centre of Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington, said the changes were overdue and were required to curb China's increased attempts to interfere in Australian politics. "This activity is being directed against a range of Australian interests, from our political systems, to our commercial interests, to expatriate communities who have made Australia their home".

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