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Australia forms new anti-espionage unit to counter foreign interference

Announcement comes on heels of self-professed spy Wang Liqiang's allegations of Chinese espionage in Australia

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. (Facebook photo)

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. (Facebook photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Australia established a new intelligence task force on Monday (Dec. 2) in response to the growing threat of foreign interference and amid revelations of alleged Chinese espionage activities in the country.

The Counter Foreign Interference Taskforce (CFIT), to be led by officials from the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), will coordinate with the country’s intelligence agencies as well as federal police in identifying and prosecuting foreign agents, reported The Australian. At least AUD$90 million (US$61.4 million) will be allocated to the operation of the task force.

“Our security and intelligence agencies have been clear that the threat from foreign interference has never been greater,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The new unit will incorporate all available resources in discovering, tracking, and disrupting foreign interference, according to the report.

Also joining the force is the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organization, which is dedicated to analyzing aerial and satellite imagery mainly for military purposes. This indicates the extent to which the government of Australia is concerned about the perceived foreign threat.

While Morrison did not name China as the main target of the task force, the announcement came on the heels of recent revelations by the self-professed Chinese spy Wang Liqiang (王立強). Wang has claimed Beijing has sought to infiltrate Australia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan through continuous covert operations.

The recently retired head of the ASIO, Duncan Lewis, has also accused China of engaging in espionage operations aimed at “taking over” Australia’s political system.