- Hillary Clinton warned Australia must stand up to the creeping influence of the Chinese Communist Party before it spreads.
- Clinton said China wants to extend its influence “first throughout Asia – then, throughout the world.”
- The former Secretary of State compared China’s “under the radar” efforts to the way Russian actors used covert social media campaigns to influence the 2016 US election.
- Australia has been closely monitoring China and its efforts to sway policy and expand its military presence in the Pacific region.
Hillary Clinton warned Australia must stand up to the creeping influence of the Chinese Communist Party before it spreads, and drew parallels between its actions and that of Russian interference in the 2016 US election.
Speaking in Melbourne at the Growth Faculty’s “An Evening with Hillary Rodham Clinton” speaker series, which was attended by Business Insider, Clinton raised the urgency of fighting interference from China.
“What we’re seeing now is a desire by China to extend its influence and project its power. First throughout Asia – then, throughout the world,” Clinton said.
“I would hope that Australia would stand up against efforts under the radar, as we say, to influence Australian politics and policy,” she told former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who moderated the event.
Clinton compared the Chinese government’s efforts to influence and interfere with Australian politics to Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US election, where she lost the presidency to Donald Trump.
Clinton said Russia was waging an information war against the United States, including its use of fake ads on Facebook.
“The Russians are still playing on anything and everything they can to turn Americans against each other, from issues of race and gun violence to the humanitarian crisis in Syria,” she said.
“And it’s not just happening in the United States… This is bigger than one candidate, one election or even one country.”
In the case of China, Clinton said: “This is an urgent problem and one we must confront immediately and together.”
Australia has been closely monitoring China’s growing influence in policy, education, trade, and military efforts in the Asia Pacific.
In December, Australia’s Prime Minister proposed banning foreign political donations, citing “disturbing reports about Chinese influence.” Turnbull also stated that foreign actors had made “unprecedented and increasingly sophisticated attempts to influence the political process.”
China has also been heavily investing in Pacific Islands. According to data from the Lowy Institute, China spent $US1.7 billion in aid and concessional loans to fund 218 projects in the Pacific Islands between 2006-2016. China has significantly bolstered its position in the South China Sea and, according to recent reports, Beijing was considering increasing its military presence in Vanuatu.
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