Australian MPs attend Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China meeting in Washington

Foreign interference was criminalised in Australia in 2018, with former Liberal candidate Duong Di Sanh recently becoming the first person charged with such an offence.

In July, the 67-year-old was committed to stand trial in the Victorian County Court, with prosecutors alleging that he made a $37,000 donation to the Royal Melbourne Hospital in 2020 as a way to interfere with former federal minister Alan Tudge on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party.

Australian Senator James Paterson, who attended the summit in Washington this week with fellow Liberal MP Andrew Hastie and Labor parliamentarians Peter Khalil and Deborah O’Neill, said there was a “surprisingly high level of awareness” of Australia’s foreign interference laws, with numerous countries, particularly across Europe, “watching with interest”.

He added that the IPAC blueprint, while not binding on governments, “sets out a clear pathway to help democracies resist coercion and intimidation from Beijing.”

IPAC was formed in 2020 as a bipartisan group to tackle the challenges posed by the threat of Beijing.

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But the alliance has taken on greater significance in recent times, as countries around the world have become increasingly concerned about authoritarian China’s rise, its human rights violations against the Uyghur Region, and its encroachment in the Indo-Pacific.

US Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and co-hosted the summit alongside Republican Senator Marco Rubio, said he had “never seen a more challenging time for the United States” in his 30 years of working in foreign policy.

Rubio, who is vice-chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, described the threat of China as “the challenge that will define the 21st century”.

“I believe there is no way that we get to the end of this decade without something happening one way or the other with regards to Taiwan – and that is a moment which threatens to be a seminal moment in human history,” he added.

Authoritarians: Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.Credit:AP

“If in fact, the Chinese Communist Party is successful in subjecting the people of Taiwan to living under tyranny, it will be a moment that will steer the course of human events for generations.”

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