China scolds Australia over plan to ban foreign interference

The push to curb foreign interference follows growing concerns about meddling by Chinese individuals and entities in Australian politics and universities.

He urged Australia to abandon prejudices and view China and bilateral relations in an objective and fair manner.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, flanked by the Attorney General and Leader of the ruling Liberal Party in the Senate, announced December 5 a raft of new measures to ban political funding from overseas, as well as the introduction of new criminal offenses related to working with 'foreign entities'.

Australians were familiar with the "very credible reports" that Russian Federation sought to actively undermine and influence the USA election, Turnbull said.

One opposition MP, who received cash, called publicly for Australia to respect China's territorial claims in the South China Sea - a position contrary to that of his party.

The tape, which showed him standing next to property developer Huang Xiangmo, a major Chinese political donor, was leaked to the media.

The newly invented offence of "unlawful interference" is defined as conduct harmful to the national interest, which is not now covered by treason or espionage.

"Foreign intelligence services are engaged in covert influence and interference on an unprecedented scale", Turnbull said.

He said the proposed laws would better police foreign political donations, espionage, counter-intelligence.

Australia expressed deep concern last month over a crackdown on pro-democracy groups in Cambodia.

Announcing the laws in Canberra, Mr Turnbull said he was concerned about alleged attempts by China to interfere in Australian politics as well as the "credible reports" about Russia's efforts to assist Donald Trump during last year's United States election campaign.

ABC reports the new legislation will broaden the definition of espionage and make "unlawful interference in Australia's political system" a crime.

Since the controversial sale of the port of Darwin to a Chinese company in 2015, the government has been at pains to demonstrate limits to its ties to China, its biggest export partner, blocking sales of Australia's biggest cattle station and biggest power grid to Chinese interests.