China hit back in an angry war of words after Malcolm Turnbull accused Beijing of meddling in domestic politics

Michael Masters/GettyAustralian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the House of Representatives in December.
  • Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull recently accused China of meddling in domestic politics.
  • He vowed over the weekend to “stand up” to China.
  • China has denied the allegations and accused Australian media of racism.

The war of words between China and Australia is growing after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull accused Beijing of meddling in domestic politics.

Turnbull vowed to “stand up” for Australians against foreign threats on Saturday, adding that “there has been foreign interference in Australian politics.”

The Chinese government denied the allegations and, on Monday, state media lashed out at Turnbull and the Australian media.

People’s Daily said: “This type of hysterical paranoia is full of racial undertones and is a stain on Australia’s image as a multicultural society.”

It added: “In its coverage of China, the imagination of some Australian media is surprising,” adding that they had given the Chinese government “unwarranted accusations,” and “maliciously slandered” Chinese students and nationals living in Australia.

Global Times, another state-run newspaper, added, according to BBC Monitoring: “The radical anti-China rhetoric by Australian Prime Minister Turnbull is more and more unbelievable.

“Even though we all know that Australia-China relations have had a few problems recently, the over-the-top manner in which the Australian prime minister has yelled at China is still very shocking.”

Malcolm turnbull xi jinpingLintao Zhang/GettyTurnbull and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China, in September 2016.

Tensions between the two countries came to a head after the Australian government proposed foreign interference laws that will ban foreign donations and force ex-MPs and others to register if they plan to lobby for overseas interests last week. The new laws will also criminalise influencing politics or the government in a deceptive or covert manner.

Geng Shuang, the Chinese foreign ministry’s spokesman, said he was “astounded” by Turnbull’s comments during that debate and that his comments “simply cater to the irresponsible reports by some Australian media that are without principle and full of bias against China.”

Switching between Mandarin Chinese and English, Turnbull said on Saturday: “Modern China was founded in 1949 with these words: ‘The Chinese people have stood up.’

“It was an assertion of sovereignty, it was an assertion of pride. And we stand up and so we say, the Australian people stand up.”

Turnbull has been emphasising the dangers of foreign influence as the Liberal-led government seeks to capitalise on Labour senator Sam Dastyari’s links to China as it campaigns to regain the seat of Bennelong, and restore its one-seat majority in parliament.

Dastyari was sacked last month after damning audio emerged of his contradicting party policy on China at a media conference last year.

That same week, Australian news agency Fairfax Media revealed that Dastyari visited a Chinese businessman and political donor at his Sydney home to warn him that his phone was being tapped by governments, including the US.

Fairfax also alleged that Dastyari gave Huang counter-surveillance advice, telling him to leave their phones inside while they spoke outside.

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