While American attention remains focused on Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, Australia — perhaps the United States’ closest ally — is debating the designs that a different country altogether has on its political system, economy and public opinion. That country is China.
Starting last week, Fairfax Media (led by the Age in Melbourne and the Sydney Morning Herald) and the “Four Corners” program of the Australian Broadcasting Corp. launched an investigation into Chinese attempts to buy influence in Australia. The reports, which are continuing, indicated that Chinese agents were monitoring Chinese students in Australia and applying pressure on their relatives back in China if they participated in demonstrations against China. Scholars of China were being spied on, too.