Australia will ban foreign political donations and force lobbyists to reveal when they are working for overseas entities under tough new laws designed to tackle growing espionage threats and Chinese influence in domestic politics. The crackdown follows revelations that organizations and individuals with alleged links to the Chinese government have donated more than A$6.7m to the Liberal and Labor parties over recent years, the Financial Times reports.
One opposition MP, who received cash, called publicly for Australia to respect China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea – a position contrary to that of his party. The proposed reforms would ban foreign donations to political parties or to lobby groups that have spent more than A$100,000 ($76,000) on political campaigning over a four-year period. Australia is the latest western country to review its laws amid rising concern that foreign governments are seeking to influence domestic politics. China spends an estimated $10bn a year on external propaganda activities.