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Australia safeguards its intelligence raids as spat with China escalates

By Ritika Nath

Peter Dutton, Australia’s Home Affairs minister on Sunday justified the government’s right to intelligence raids to avert the interference of foreign intelligence after China denounced the searches which took place in the homes of its journalists working in Australia.

Dutton directly refused to verify that the Chinese journalists were interrogated by Australia’s intelligence bureau in June, saying that an inspection was still ongoing, but also said that some ‘activity’ was being handled by the country’s intelligence agency.

Dutton also stated on the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) television, that the Australian Counterintelligence Organisation has sufficient grounds for the execution of a search warrant or for different activities if someone is being suspicious, then the bureau might handle the ongoing activity.

“If people are masquerading as journalists or business leaders or whoever they might be, and there’s evidence that they are acting in a contrary nature to Australian law, then .... (the) agencies will act.”

China’s foreign ministry revealed the raids last week after two journalists from Australia departed from China following thorough interrogation by the Chinese police. On Friday, Australia’s trade ministry said that the agencies acted on evidence associated with an investigation led by foreign interference. China’s state media on Saturday condemned the raids.

The China Australia relationship has been gradually deteriorating over the recent years, being China's top trading partner and now after Canberra called for an investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus the relations between both the countries got more bitter as this announcement angered Beijing.

China forcefully imposed trade restrictions on products like barley, wine and more, persuading Australia to strengthen and tighten national security tests for foreign investment.

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