Australian police accessed Chinese diplomats’ emails and messages as part of foreign political interference investigation
Australian police accessed the communications of top Chinese diplomats and named a Chinese consular official in a warrant as part of an investigation into political interference, in the months before a crackdown on Australians in China.
The ABC has uncovered explosive details of the highly sensitive investigation that has privately infuriated the Chinese Government in recent months as the Australia-China relationship has deteriorated into its worst crisis since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
Search warrants seen by the ABC reveal the Australian Federal Police (AFP) are investigating whether China’s Sydney consulate conspired with a New South Wales MP’s policy adviser, John Zhisen Zhang, in a plot to infiltrate the Labor Party and influence voters.
The warrants identify Sydney Consul Sun Yantao, who is responsible for managing relations with the Chinese diaspora and pro-Beijing organisations.
Mr Sun was appointed to the Sydney consulate by the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, which has been taken over by China’s foreign influence agency, the United Front Work Department (UFWD).
In a statement, the Consulate-General in Sydney said accusations it “engaged in infiltration activities are totally baseless and nothing but vicious slanders”.
“The Chinese Consulate-General in Sydney is committed to promoting friendly exchanges and pragmatic cooperation in various fields between the Chinese side and New South Wales,” the statement said.
“It always observes international law and basic norms of international relations while exercising duties in Australia.”
China-Australia relations: infiltration allegations against Chinese consul ‘vicious slander’
Chinese consulate general in Sydney says it is ‘committed to promoting friendly exchanges and pragmatic cooperation’Suggestions consul Sun Yantao engaged in infiltration activities are ‘totally baseless’, it says
Keegan Elmer in Beijing
Published: 4:30pm, 16 Sep, 2020
China’s consulate in Sydney has dismissed allegations of political interference following reports a consular official has been identified in an investigation by Australian federal police.The statement comes amid a months-long investigation into foreign interference in Australia that has enveloped local politicians, Chinese diplomats and journalists, and deepened the growing rift between Canberra and Beijing.
“The accusations that the consulate general and its official engaged in infiltration activities are totally baseless and nothing but vicious slander,” the consulate said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The Chinese consulate general in Sydney is committed to promoting friendly exchanges and pragmatic cooperation in various fields between the Chinese side and New South Wales.
“It always observes international law and basic norms of international relations while exercising its duties in Australia.”