Government’s relationship with China is inconsistent with defending Australia from foreign influence

The statement of the Victorian prime minister has been followed this week by reports that ASIO is investigating whether Chinese intelligence agencies have provided the seven-character luxury car dealer Bo “Nick” Zhao a Liberal candidate in Chisholm’s federal Melbourne seat.

The businessman allegedly went to ASIO until he was found dead in a motel room in Melbourne in March. These allegations were revealed in an interview with Sunday’s 9 networks by self-proclaimed Chinese intelligence defector Wang Liqiang.

Last year, Victoria became the only Australian country to sign an agreement on the Chinese Road and Belt Initiative. The Chinese export market in Victoria has gone from $6.5 billion a year to $10 billion, as the Andrews government came to power in 2014.

The Australian Institute analyst for Strategic Policy, Alex Joske, warned this week of the insufficient foreign policy experience of the local authorities and the state governments and China experts to “monitor any political influence attempts” concerning Belt and Road deals.

As an example of this, Mr. Joske cited the 10-million USD research agreement with the state-owned Chinese Commer● Social Aircraft Corporation, signed a week after Mr. Andrews in China was linked to the global industrial spy program and welcomed it in October.

This week, retiring ASIO Director-General Duncan Lewis warned the Chinese Government, using “insidious” foreign interference activities, of the “political overtaking” Australia’s political system.

Asked how, given their alleged attempts to infiltrate the Federal Parliament, Victoria could trust China as business associates, Mr. Andrews said he did not believe both of those things were incompatible.

Everyone supports this and we have very, very close links with ASIO and other national intelligence-gathering agencies on many different fronts. What we can do is discuss every day based on the guidance to get Victoria to create jobs, to spend and to build us into the future. This is the solution and there is no reason.