The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), the country’s national security agency has raided the Labor Party leader and New South Wales upper house MP Shaoquett Moselmane for his alleged links with the Chinese government.
According to the reports, the ASIO carried out raids on the Labor party MP after they suspected a possible Chinese Communist Party influence. The country’s spy agency also searched his residence for evidence to support allegations of a Chinese government plot to influence a serving politician.
Reportedly, the controversial MP Shaoquett Moselmane is believed to be a strong supporter of China and is extremely vocal about the Communist country. He had even gone to the extent of praising China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, raising eyebrows in Australia.
The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and Australian Federal Police (AFP) confirmed that raids has been conducted at the residence of the Labor MP. “This activity does not relate to any specific threat to the community,” ASIO said.
Reportedly, the investigation had been running for months. On Friday, Moselmane was questioned at NSW Parliament by federal agents outside his office.
Shaoquett Moselmane suspended from Labor Party
Shaoquett Moselmane has now been suspended from the Labor party following reports that his office is facing an investigation by national security agencies over alleged links to China.
Jodi McKay, the Australian Labor Party leader on Friday said Moselmane’s membership of the party would be suspended immediately pending the investigation.
Labor MP Shaoquett Moselmane’s alleged close ties with China
In April, Moselmane had also resigned as assistant president of the Legislative Council after repeatedly praising China’s response to the coronavirus crisis. On his personal website, he had written that a nation needed ‘tough, unswerving leadership, focused on the mammoth task ahead’ in order to contain the virus’ spread.
“For the People’s Republic of China, President Xi stepped up and provided that leadership. He mustered the resources of the nation and together with the great people of China – fought it and contained it,” Moselmane wrote.
NSW MP Moselmane, however, continued to serve as an upper house MP and also a member of the Labor party.
There are reports that suggest that Moselmane has very close ties with China. Last year, it was reported that Moselmane had taken nine privately funded trips to China since entering parliament in 2009. The shocking disclosures had revealed that his transport and hospitality costs were often met by Chinese government officials or agencies.
Reportedly, Moselmane was the honorary chair of the Australian Shanghainese Association and a member of the Australian Chinese Association, both linked to China’s secretive network of foreign influence operations known as the United Front.
In 2018, Moselmane gave a speech proclaiming a “new world order” was needed for China to reach its potential and appointed John Zhang to his parliamentary office at the beginning of 2019. Zhang is listed as a vice-chairman of Australia China Economics, Trade and Culture Association, which according to the China experts say was a leading Chinese Communist party-aligned organisation in Australia.
Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that Australian Federal Police raids on the home and parliamentary office of NSW Labor MP Shaoquett Moselmane demonstrated that the threat of foreign interference is “real”.
Australia’s souring relations with China
Australia’s relationship with China has been deteriorating recently. During the coronavirus pandemic, Australia had levelled serious allegations on China, leading to a veiled threat from Beijing. Australia had advocated for a thorough investigation into China’s role in spreading the Wuhan Coronavirus. PM Morrison had even called for a global crackdown on Chinese wet markets.
China had objected to the recent defence deals signed between Australia and India and had termed it a ‘confrontation’ attempt with China.
Australia had recently admitted to a massive cyber attack and had stated that a nation-state is behind it, hinting at China.