Menu

Trump China probe sparked by Aust concerns

US president Donald Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping. Photo Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP

Australia’s concerns about Chinese meddling in national affairs has prompted US President Donald Trump’s administration to open an interagency probe into Chinese covert influence in America.

A US National Security Council interagency group is examining “the grey area” of Chinese covert influence operations rather than traditional espionage, The Washington Post reported.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declared in December Australia will stand up to Chinese meddling and ASIO’s director-general Duncan Lewis warned in October foreign powers were “clandestinely seeking to shape the opinions of members of the Australian public, media organisations and government officials in order to advance their country’s own political objectives”.

“A catalyst for the Trump administration’s probe was an investigation in Australia, which revealed what that country’s security chief called ‘unprecedented’ foreign meddling that could damage Australia’s sovereignty,”Washington Post columnist David Ignatius wrote this week.

Mr Trump released a National Security Strategy paper last month highlighting concerns about China and other rival nations’ covert meddling

.
”America’s competitors weaponise information to attack the values and institutions that underpin free societies, while shielding themselves from outside information,” the strategy paper states.

Australia is praised in the document for its ability to “reinforce economic and security arrangements that support our shared interests and safeguard democratic values across the (Indo-Pacific) region”.

A White House official offered examples of where China applied pressure on US institutions, including universities, Hollywood studios, think tanks and news organisations.

US universities host more than 350,000 Chinese students, about one third of all foreign students in the US, and Hollywood studios increasingly rely on revenues from the booming Chinese box office so are sensitive to upsetting Beijing.

Think tanks are keen to travel to and study China, but often need funding to make the trips, and news organisations face pressure because China can restrict journalists’ visas.

“What we’re talking about are coercive and covert activities designed to influence elections, officials, policies, company decisions and public opinion,” the White House official told the Post.

The official cited a Chinese student at the University of Maryland shamed by social media and forced to apologise for praising free speech and at the University of California, San Diego, an invitation to the Dalai Lama led to warnings Chinese students’ degrees might not be recognised in China.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

Become a supporter of The Echo

A note from the editorial team

Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

The Echo has never underestimated the intelligence and passion of its readers. In a world of corporate banality and predictability, The Echo has worked hard for more than 30 years to help keep Byron and the north coast unique with quality local journalism and creative ideas. We think this area needs more voices, reasoned analysis and ideas than just those provided by News Corp, lifestyle mags, Facebook groups and corporate newsletters.

The Echo is one hundred per cent locally owned and one hundred per cent independent. As you have probably gathered from what is happening in the media industry, it is not cheap to produce a weekly newspaper and a daily online news service of any quality.

We have always relied entirely on advertising to fund our operations, but often loyal readers who value our local, independent journalism have asked how they could help ensure our survival.

Any support you can provide to The Echo will make an enormous difference. You can make a one-off contribution or a monthly one. With your help, we can continue to support a better informed local community and a healthier democracy for another 30 years.”

Echonetdaily is made possible by the support of all of our advertisers.