Asia-Pacific News

Chinese media attacks 'hysterical paranoia' of countries worried about Beijing's influence

Key Points
  • Global Times and People's Daily have hit back at countries expressing concerns about China's rising influence in their countries
  • Australia, Germany and New Zealand are some of the countries that have flagged Chinese interference recently
  • On Tuesday, prominent Australian opposition lawmaker Sam Dastyari said he would resign from parliament over a scandal concerning his ties to China.
Children holding Chinese national flag play in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China.
China Photos | Getty Images

China is hitting back at countries that are worried that it's trying to to influence their internal affairs.

While some friction between China and the West is natural, recent comments by countries accusing Beijing of meddling in local matters were "logically absurd" and took the "moral low ground," Communist Party-linked Global Times on Tuesday — a day after another scathing editorial from People's Daily.

Several countries have flagged their worries over China's activities, accusing it of creating fake profiles on social networks to extract information to nudging lawmakers to push for policies that would be favorable to the world's second-largest economy.

"It's disgraceful that in an era of globalization, some countries exhibit all the symptoms of McCarthyism: suspecting Chinese business people and students, framing China and harassing Chinese visitors on exchanges," said the nationalistic Global Times in an op-ed published late Tuesday.

On Tuesday, a prominent Australian opposition lawmaker, Sam Dastyari, said he would resign from parliament over a scandal concerning his ties to China.

Neighboring New Zealand also expressed concerns about China's political activities in the country, the Financial Times reported Monday.

On Sunday, German intelligence agency BfV published the details of social network profiles which it says are fronts faked by Chinese intelligence to gather personal information about German officials and politicians, Reuters reported.

Global Times added that China has been under great pressure from "Western values and ideology" since the country opened up its economy four decades ago, but it has "never warned of guarding against foreigners in China as potential spies."

"If China adopted the same attitude as Western countries, then communities of foreign expats in Beijing would fall under suspicion: They could be controlled by their governments. Bars and cafes in Beijing and Shanghai, frequented mostly by Westerners, would be regarded as information stations," the newspaper said.

Global Times suggested China should take preemptive steps for being "ridiculously blamed for interfering with Western society even before it is able to do so."

"China has effectively punished some individuals in Western show business that have tried to find fault with China. We can apply this to provocative Western politicians as a form of deterrence," the paper added.

Global Times did not elaborate on the individuals targeted but American singer Katy Perry and model Gigi Hadid could not attend an event in Shanghai recently as they reportedly experienced visa issues due to political reasons.

Global Times' editorial came after the powerful Communist Party-owned People's Daily slammed Australia in a strongly-worded op-ed earlier this week. Calling press reports about China's political infiltration into Australia "fabricated news," People's Daily said they criticized the Chinese government "groundlessly."

"This type of hysterical paranoia had racist undertones, and is a stain on Australia's image as a multicultural society," the People's Daily said in an editorial.

Last week, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced new measures to restrict overseas interference in domestic politics, including a ban on foreign donations.

Turnbull cited "disturbing reports about Chinese influence" in an address to reporters Wednesday, though clarified that his reforms were "not about any one country."

China lodged a complaint with Australia after Turnbull's comments, but the Australian prime minister hit back saying he was defending his country's sovereignty.

The Chinese foreign ministry said at its scheduled press conference on Monday that it advises Australia leaders "to refrain from those remarks that are detrimental to their own images and China-Australia relations."