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Chinese influence on Australia is 'fabricated' by media, China claims

"Some Australian politicians and government officials also made irresponsible remarks to the detriment of political mutual trust between China and Australia", an embassy spokesman said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Tuesday that foreign interference in politics would be outlawed under updated treason and espionage laws.

A new offence of intentional foreign interference will make it a crime for a person to engage in conduct on behalf of a foreign principal that will influence a political or governmental process (including opposition party policy) and is either covert or involves deception.

Debate in Australia about Chinese influence has been sparked by a recording that surfaced last week in which Labor senator, Sam Dastyari, can be heard contradicting his party's position on the South China Sea, as well as the revelation that he tipped off a Chinese political donor, Huang Xiangmo, that his phone was probably being tapped by security agencies.

"We have no intention of interfering in Australia's internal affairs or exercising influence in its domestic politics through political donations, " Geng said.

"But these reforms are not about any one country", he added, pointing to Russian influence in the United States election.

"If GetUp! were to change focus, if they were to stop involvement in political campaigning in the future and become a charity [and] only be involved in non-political activities, then they would be absolutely free to receive and use foreign donations", Senator Cormann said. Asked about Dastyari, Turnbull said: "Senator Dastyari's solicited money from a Chinese national".

Dastyari was revealed a year ago to have accepted money from a Chinese businessman.

"We urge the relevant people in Australia to discard prejudice and speak and act more in a way that will be conducive to boosting China-Australia relationship and deepening cooperation between them".

The optics are bad for the Labor Party, and Dastyari has been demoted again.

Former President Obama's administration past year called for the Australian system to be reformed to remove the influence of political donations from China — Australia's largest trading partner and its biggest source of foreign political funds. His comments were based on assumption, nothing more.

Unlike the USA and many other countries that ban foreign donations, Australian law has never distinguished between donors from Australia and overseas.

The rise of China, however, and efforts from within the emerging superpower to exercise soft diplomacy in the region and around the world, has raised new concerns. However, the new laws "are not about any one country", he said.

Dastyari, who remains in Parliament, had previously said that a Chinese company with links to Beijing had paid a A$1,670 (US$1,275) travel bill for him.

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