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China slams Australia amid growing foriegn interfernce fears

AFP  |  Sydney 

accused today of stirring "anti-hysteria" after Canberra proposed a suite of foreign interference laws, labelling comments by some officials as irresponsible.

Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull on Tuesday announced wide-ranging reforms to tackle rising concerns of foreign interference, noting "disturbing reports" about Chinese influence.

That came after Turnbull ordered an inquiry in June in the wake of media revelations that the nation's spy agency had warned the country's political elite two years ago about taking donations from two billionaires with links to the Chinese

The Chinese embassy in Canberra issued a furious response to the proposed laws Wednesday, saying Australian media had "repeatedly fabricated" stories about "so-called" Chinese infiltration in

"Those reports, which were made up out of thin air and filled with cold war mentality and ideological bias, reflected a typical anti-hysteria and (are) paranoid," an embassy spokesperson said in a statement.

Rhetoric has escalated from inside Canberra over the past week, after a key Australian labor MP, Sam Dastyari, was forced to resign as deputy opposition whip after reports that he told a Chinese businessman his phone was likely being tapped by intelligence agencies.

The June probe said intelligence agencies had major concerns that was interfering in Australian institutions and using the political donations system to gain access. denied the allegations as "totally groundless".

There have also been mounting concerns within Australian universities about Beijing's use of nationalist student groups to monitor Chinese students, and challenge academics whose views do not align with doctrine.

The embassy said these reports "unscrupulously vilified" the Chinese community in with "racial prejudice".

"Some Australian politicians and officials also made irresponsible remarks to the detriment of political mutual trust between China and Australia," the embassy statement reads. "We categorically reject these allegations."

Turnbull announced a host of new initiatives Tuesday, including broadening espionage laws and a ban on foreign donations to political parties, with legislation to be introduced to parliament this week.

"We have recently seen disturbing reports about Chinese influence," he told reporters.

"I take those reports, as do my colleagues, very seriously."

Foreign interference is a "global issue", he said, adding that Russian meddling in the American political system had helped Australian foreign interference reforms gain momentum.

has long maintained a commitment to sovereign respect and non-interference throughout the allegations but today struck a stronger tone.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, December 06 2017. 18:26 IST