In the face of the election, the Australian Prime Minister rejects China’s interference

The Australian prime minister on Saturday accused China of “form” or record of interfering in foreign policy after his interior minister said Beijing’s revelation of a security deal with the nearby Solomon Islands was timed to influence an election.

With most polls showing Scott Morrison’s conservative coalition heading for a loss in the May 21 election, it has sought to highlight its national security information, such as a tough approach to China.

“We are very aware of the influence that the Chinese government is seeking to have in this country,” Morrison told reporters in Tasmania. “There’s some form of foreign interference in Australia.”

He was responding to a query as evidence for a radio statement by Home Secretary Karen Andrews that the timing of China’s unveiling of the recent Salomon agreement was a form of foreign interference in Australia’s elections.

China has said the pact was not aimed at any third party and called on Australia to “respect the sovereign and independent choices made by China and the Solomon Islands.”

News of the Pacific Pact’s security concerns about the prospect of a Chinese military presence less than 2,000 km (1,200 miles) off the coast of Australia put the national security effort of Morrison’s coalition in a bad light.

After Australia’s opposition Labor party this week called the deal a national security flaw from Canberra, Morrison’s government has sharpened its comments.

He cited a ban on foreign political donations and a register of foreign representatives, saying: “Any suggestion that the Chinese government does not seek to interfere in Australia, yes, we have not introduced that legislation for no reason.”

In the Solomon Islands a day earlier, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told parliament that the country would not participate in any militarization in the Pacific and had signed the China agreement as a security pact with Australia was inadequate.

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