China revealed as nation behind Australian espionage scheme

China's involvement in an espionage plot has amplified tensions ahead of the ASEAN conference in Melbourne.

China revealed as nation behind Australian espionage scheme
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China has been disclosed as the orchestrator of the covert operation labelled the "A-team" by ASIO Director-General Mike Burgess, collaborating with a former politician to spy on Australia.

While Burgess refrained from naming the country or the implicated politician publicly, The Sydney Morning Herald independently verified China's Ministry of State Security as the orchestrator.

Burgess's prior remarks on China's "unprecedented" intellectual property theft had led analysts to speculate on Beijing's involvement, further shadowing the upcoming ASEAN conference in Melbourne.

In a 60 Minutes interview, Burgess defended his decision to withhold specifics, emphasizing the intricate security landscape. He reiterated ASIO's persistent battle against foreign interference, hinting at ongoing threats despite recent revelations.

The timing of Burgess's disclosure, amid speculation over the ex-politician's identity, presents a diplomatic challenge for Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's government, particularly as China holds significant sway over ASEAN member states.

Despite expectations to address China's territorial claims in the South China Sea, divisions within ASEAN may impede consensus. While the summit may sidestep contentious issues to maintain unity, discussions on trade and economic development are anticipated to proceed smoothly.

However, addressing Myanmar's military junta's actions may provoke disagreement, with potential measures aimed at restoring peace and accountability likely to be debated.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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