Australia’s ambassador to China has been asked to explain the Federal Government’s new foreign interference laws, after being called into China’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Jan Adams was summoned by Chinese officials as claims arose that Beijing allegedly meddled in Australian politics.
China’s ambassador to Australia has also held talks with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
It is not unprecedented for Australian ambassadors in China to be summoned after a top Australian diplomat in China was summoned to the ministry during a dispute over contested islands in 2013.
Mr Turnbull had announced new laws to ban foreign donations and create of a register of lobbyists working for foreign countries.
The Prime Minister has confirmed that the government had reassured Beijing that it was not looking to single out China with its proposed foreign interference legislation.
However, Mr Turnbull said now former Senator Sam Dastyari was an example of Chinese influence in Australian politics, after the Labor senator was recorded in June 2016 defending China’ military development in the South China Sea.
He had also admitted a Chinese company paid a $1670 travel bill and had warned a Chinese businessman that his phone was tapped by Australian intelligence agencies.
China has criticised the legislation and Australian government officials’ “irresponsible remarks”.
Mr Dastyari resigned from parliament over his relationship with a Chinese donor this week, following weeks of pressure from the Turnbull government.
One former senior government official said however, this would not be the end of the matter.
The official, who does not wish to be named because of ongoing involvement in public affairs said Beijing’s decision to single out an Australian prime minister was highly unusual and likely meant there would be further retaliation.
“I think it would be very unwise to assume the Chinese will not react beyond words,” he said.
“The Chinese in due course will reduce our trade and that will be pretty unpleasant.”