| 22 February 2024, Thursday |

China has a record of interfering in foreign politics, says Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison

“We are very aware of the influence the Chinese government seeks to have in this country,” said Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Saturday, adding that China has a record of interfering in foreign politics.
“There is form on foreign interference in Australia,” news agency Reuters quoted Morrison as saying.
His statement comes ahead of the May 21 election that will be held in Australia amid rising tensions with China.
Recently, Australia’s defence minister Peter Dutton had also accused China of paying bribes to win international deals.

Dutton told news agency AFP, “China’s incredibly aggressive acts of foreign interference, the preparedness to pay bribes to beat other countries to deals: that’s the reality of modern China.”

Defence experts believe that he was referring to Beijing’s newly signed defence pact with the Solomon Islands in which China apparently outmanoeuvred Australia by securing the agreement.
China has requested Australia to “respect the sovereign and independent choices made by China and the Solomons”.

The Pacific islands’ Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare had been warned about the pact’s “potential regional security implications” by the White House.

It said in a statement, “If steps are taken to establish a de facto permanent military presence, power-projection capabilities, or a military installation, the delegation noted that the United States would then have significant concerns and respond accordingly.”

Morrison said Australia is worried that China will increase its military presence on the Solomon Islands, which is less than 2,000 km from Canberra, and added “Any suggestion that the Chinese government doesn’t seek to interfere in Australia, well, we didn’t put that legislation in for no reason.”

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