US and Australia to join hands against ‘fake news’ from China

Australian ministers also want to expand 'Five Eyes' intelligence network to cover economic issues

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Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne 

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Two of Australia’s top ministers are flying to the United States on Sunday (July 26) to discuss a joint campaign against disinformation by countries such as China, according to media reports.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defense Minister Linda Reynolds are facing the most tense relations with China since the two countries established diplomatic relations in the 1970s, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Saturday (July 25). Payne described the imminent talks as the “most significant in my time for Australia’s short, medium and long-term interests.”

On the American side, tension has also been rising with the closing of the consulates in Houston and Chengdu, amid accusations of Chinese espionage, repression in Hong Kong, and the origins of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Australia was in the process of setting up a taskforce to act against “fake news,” in particular related to the effect on small Indo-Pacific nations, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Democracies in the region have shown concern about growing Chinese influence as it woos allies away from Taiwan and eyes expanding its naval power.

The two Australian ministers reportedly also wanted to discuss an expansion of the “Five Eyes” intelligence network into economic issues with their counterparts in Washington. The group, which also includes Canada, Great Britain and New Zealand, should be looking at the moving of supply chains in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Australians.