The Australian leader, in the face of the elections, denounces the interference of China | world news
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s prime minister on Saturday accused China of “form”, or record, interference in foreign policy, after his home secretary said Beijing’s unveiling of a a security deal with neighboring Solomon Islands was timed to influence an election.
While most polls show Scott Morrison’s conservative coalition heading for a defeat in the May 21 election, it has sought to highlight its national security credentials, such as a tough approach to China.
“We are very aware of the influence the Chinese government is trying to have in this country,” Morrison told reporters in Tasmania. “There is a form on foreign interference in Australia.”
He was responding to a question about evidence of a radio statement by Home Secretary Karen Andrews that the timing of China’s disclosure of its recent Solomons deal was a form of foreign interference in Australia’s election .
China said the pact did not target any third parties and urged Australia to “respect the sovereign and independent choices made by China and the Solomons”.
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News of the security pact with the Pacific nation has raised concerns about the prospect of a Chinese military presence within 2,000 km (1,200 miles) of Australia’s shores, throwing the coalition’s national security efforts from Morrison in a bad light.
After Australia’s opposition Labor Party this week branded the Canberra deal a national security failure, Morrison’s government has toughened its rhetoric.
He cited a ban on foreign political donations and a register of foreign representatives, saying: “Any suggestion that the Chinese government isn’t looking to interfere in Australia, well, we haven’t put this legislation in place for no reason. .”
In the Solomon Islands, a day earlier, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told parliament the country would not engage in any militarization in the Pacific and had signed the deal with China because a security pact with Australia was inadequate.
(Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
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