Politics

Australian spy agency red-flags Chinese businessman as national security risk

Sydney, Australia, Mar 12 (efe-epa).- Australia’s domestic spy agency has red-flagged a Chinese businessman and former Liberal Party donor as a national security risk, according to court documents.

Huifeng “Haha” Liu, a former soldier in the People’s Liberation Army who faces deportation, is the second businessman with ties to Beijing accused of alleged foreign interference in Australian politics amid soaring relations with China.

The Australian Security and Intelligence Organization (ASIO) said the 52-year-old Melbourne-based businessman “had engaged, and was at risk of engaging, in activities which constituted ‘acts of foreign interference.’”

The ASIO assessment dating back to last year is part of a series of court documents obtained by local network ABC linked to Liu’s preliminary proceedings in Federal Court to prevent his deportation.

According to the documents, the spy agency alleged that Liu “deliberately misrepresented the nature and extent of his relationships with officials of the Chinese government and the activities he has conducted on their behalf.”

The ABC network has also unearthed WeChat messages, indicating that Liu and his neighborhood watch organization worked closely with Chinese diplomats in Sydney and Melbourne and hoped for funding from a Chinese foreign influence agency.

He stopped running the organization due to ASIO suspicions.

Liu’s case in the Federal Court comes after the government revoked visas of two Chinese academics last year for security reasons.

The move was part of a government strategy to counter alleged foreign interference in the domestic political system of Australia.

Influential Chinese-Australian businessman Di Sahn Duong, 65, a former Liberal Party candidate, was the first person charged under the foreign interference laws of Australia in November last year.

The indictments come after series of scandals that blew the lid over the Chinese Communist Party’s alleged ties to Australian politicians in recent years.

China is Australia’s main trading partner.

Canberra has implemented a series of laws and measures to prevent foreign meddling but doesn’t mention China.

The moves, which have enraged Beijing, followed the resignation of Labor Party MP in 2017 after he was accused of Warning Chinese entrepreneur Huang Xiangmo, a member of China’s Communist Party, of the possibility of his phone being tapped.

He also allegedly defended China’s stance in the South China Sea dispute, contradicting his party’s policy. EFE-EPA

wat/ssk

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