The Prime Minister used exceptionally strong language in response to Beijing’s recent complaint about the allegations of Communist Party leverage in the Australian domestic politics, as reported by ABC.
"Modern China was founded in 1949 with these words, The Chinese people have stood up. It was an assertion of sovereignty, it was an assertion of pride," he said.
On Tuesday, Beijing took it personally as Turnbull announced new espionage laws, citing China’s increased influence in the region, though the legislation made no direct reference to China.
Geng Shuang¸ the Chinese foreign ministry’s spokesman, said he was shocked by Mr. Turnbull citing "biased" media reports about the Communist Party’s interference.
"We are astounded by the relevant remarks of the Australian leader. Such remarks simply cater to the irresponsible reports by some Australian media that are without principle and full of bias against China," Geng said at a regularly scheduled briefing.
Mr. Turnbull said he had enough reasons to be concerned about the role foreigners play in domestic politics, recalling a recent case when Labour senator Sam Dastyari let a Chinese businessman pay his legal bill.
"Sam Dastyari is a classic case and the real question is why is Bill Shorten allowing him to stay in the Labour Party [ALP], stay in the Senate, when he clearly does not put Australia first?" he said.
Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop had earlier called for Dastyari to quit Parliament after a tape emerged showing the Senator speaking out in defense of China’s policy in the South China Sea last year, which essentially contradicted official ALP policy.
Following China’s response to PM Turnbull’s take on foreign interference issues, ABC cited Defense analyst Malcolm Davis, from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute as saying that Beijing was trying to intimidate Australia by complaining about references to its interference in Australia’s political process.
"They are trying to intimidate us and what we have to understand is the reports of Chinese infiltration and attempts to maneuver and manipulate Australian politics and Australian political debate are legitimate," Dr. Davis said. He added that China’s ultimate goal is to make Australia distance itself from the United States, thus bringing the age-old alliance to an end.