A Chinese spy is seeking political asylum in Australia after offering intelligence on how China conducts its interference operations abroad.
Nine newspapers reported Wang “William” Liqiang has provided Australia’s counter-espionage agency ASIO of details of how China’s senior military intelligence officers fund and conduct political interference operations in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia.
“I have personally been involved and participated in a series of espionage activities,” Mr Wang said in a statement to ASIO in October, Nine said.
Mr Wang is currently at an undisclosed location in Sydney on a tourist visa, telling Nine he is seeking urgent protection from the Australian government, a plea he says he has made in multiple meetings with ASIO.
He would face certain detention and possible execution if he returns to China.
Senior federal government minister Josh Frydenberg said the matter is now in the hands of appropriate law enforcement agencies and declined to comment on individual cases.
“But I would say the government makes no apologies for the strong measures that we have taken to ensure that we have foreign interference laws in place, that we are resourcing our law enforcement intelligence agencies, like never before,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Saturday.
“We will always stand up for our national interests, whether it’s on matters of foreign policy, foreign investment or other related issues.”
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said the revelations were a concern and is seeking a briefing with the appropriate agencies next week.
“We need to make sure that Australia’s national sovereignty is protected,” Mr Albanese told reporters in Geelong.
He said the decision to offer asylum will be up to the government but is sympathetic to his request.
“We know that he has outlined a range of activities which clearly put him in a circumstance whereby it’s a legitimate claim for asylum,” he said.
Asked whether this will put further strain on Australia’s relationship with China, Mr Albanese said: “We support human rights. We are a democracy. We support freedom of expression.”
“And these things need to be dealt with on their merits. And Australia has obligations under the principles of the way that we operate as a democracy.”