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Espionage: It’s More Than Just a Hollywood Fantasy


China’s communist dictatorship employing “moles” should not surprise anyone. Its interactions on the world stage show it will employ any methodology to attain its ever-growing belligerent demands.

From bullying to bribing to spying, the dictatorship displays its lack of a moral compass in pursuing its aims.

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However, what has surprised the world community and shaken Westminster in London to its core is that the dictatorship’s alleged mole was able to penetrate as far as the office of now-Security Minister Tom Tugendhat and the Chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Alicia Kearns.

The revelations in the United Kingdom have rightly led to questions being asked about the security and vetting protections employed in Australia for similar parliamentary offices.

Senior Shadow Minister Senator James Patterson has raised concerns about the lack of any security clearance requirements for the staff of MPs and senators serving on the Australian Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence and Security.

As a former distinguished chair of that Committee, Senator Patterson knows what he is talking about and is absolutely correct in ringing the alarm.

While protocols of sorts have been employed, they are best described as sub-optimal. Senator Patterson’s request for the staff to be security vetted is not before time and needs immediate action. To do anything else would be criminally negligent.

The need for legislation to counter foreign interference which passed the Parliament a few years ago appears to have been seen as a one-off exercise rather than part of a much-needed full suite of actions by the government to protect Australia’s interests from unsavoury international actors.

Australia has been warned many a time about the Chinese dictatorship’s malevolent attitude.

Academics like Clive Hamilton provided a clarion call with his expose in “Silent Invasion—China’s Influence in Australia.” If only one-tenth of his assertions were correct, it still makes for exceptionally disturbing reading.

As time has gone by the claims in the book are now seen more and more as being focussed and accurate.

The Confucius Centres at various Australian universities have similarly been outed for their nefarious purposes.

WeChat and other platforms are being exposed as vehicles for inappropriate influencing of the Chinese diaspora in Australia.

WeChat app is seen on a smartphone on July 13, 2021. (Dado Ruvic/REUTERS/Illustration)
WeChat app is seen on a smartphone on July 13, 2021. (Dado Ruvic/REUTERS/Illustration)

Given this ongoing wholesale attempt to influence and gain access to Australia’s institutions and people, authorities cannot be too careful.

In the world of espionage and counter-espionage, any allegation needs to be treated cautiously. However, when a citizen is arrested for such activity the stakes become exceptionally high.

The UK arrest serves as a timely reminder that the world of espionage is not just the stuff of movies but real-world politics which can trigger international conflicts.

Access to a country’s defence secrets and other confidential information is highly prized by forces wishing to do ill or simply undermine the country’s strategy in a particular area of endeavour.

The effort of the Chinese dictatorship in pursuing its attempts at influence and access must surely dispel any previously held view in foreign affairs circles that China is a benign player and simply needs to be better understood.

The nonsense peddled in this regard by former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating and former Foreign Minister Bob Carr is mystifying. To use a Keating line, “they’ve gone troppo.”

It must take a special and unique skillset to ignore such an avalanche of evidence.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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