TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Following the shocking revelation by a self-claimed Chinese spy about Beijing’s espionage in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Australia, reports have surfaced that Chinese intelligence networks have allegedly also been attempting to infiltrate the Australian Parliament.
Chinese operatives had allegedly offered AU$1 million to Bo Nick Zhao, a Melbourne luxury car dealer and member of the Liberal Party, to run for a parliamentary seat, reported The Age, citing sources with knowledge of the plot.
In March, the 32-year-old was found dead in a motel room in Melbourne, and the cause of his death remains undisclosed. About a year ago, Zhao reported to the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) about an offer made by another Melbourne businessman, Brian Chen (Mandarin name: Chen Chungsheng), wrote The Age.
Chen has denied being affiliated with Zhao as well as any involvement in Chinese espionage activities. Nevertheless, ASIO Director-General of Security Mike Burgess issued a statement on Nov. 24 acknowledging the allegations and sought to reassure the public that due action is being taken on the matter.
“In accordance with long-standing practice, I will not comment on this particular operational matter,” Burgess said, stressing the agency takes the case seriously and has been actively investigating it. He further indicated that “hostile foreign intelligence activity continues to pose a threat to the nation” and pledged the continued implementation of countermeasures.
Beijing has rebutted the allegations involving the plot to install a pro-China legislator in Australian Parliament as “lies,” wrote The Guardian. Meanwhile, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute has called for caution in collaborations between Australian and Chinese universities over national security concerns.