China is Australia’s largest export market, importing more than $68 billion in Aussie goods last year.
It’s also the largest source of international students.
And Chinese tourist visits to Australia are growing faster than any other nation. Last year, roughly 1.3 million Chinese nationals visited our shores. In the year ahead, Chinese tourists may replace New Zealanders as the largest group of international visitors.
In short, Australia’s economic ties to China are important.
Yet the Chinese government is not our friend. Certainly, Australians wouldn’t want to live under the repressive regime imposed by the Communist Party.
Chinese military exploit Aussie universities
And the Chinese military continues its dangerous expansion plans in the South China Seas. Last week, Business Insider reported that President Xi Jinping told Chinse troops:
‘We have to step up combat readiness exercises, joint exercises and confrontational exercises to enhance servicemen’s capabilities and preparation for war.’
With this in mind, you have to ask, why are Australian universities educating Chinese military scientists?
The question arises after a new report found Chinese military scientists regularly work undercover in Australian universities on high tech weapons and communications research.
Since 2007, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute has discovered that around 2500 Chinese engineers and scientists apart of the People’s Liberation Army studied in overseas universities.
This information has implied that a number of scientists concealed their relationship with the military when working in fields like navigation technology and hypersonic missiles.
According to AAP, author Alex Joskie said that the situation was ‘harming the West’s strategic advantage’ having flown so easily under Western risks and radars. He also described the ordeal as a ‘military academic onslaught’.
The report stated ‘Nearly all PLA scientists sent abroad are Chinese Communist Party members who return to China on time (rather than extend their term)’.
Mr Joske stated that the Chinese military scientists had informed the foreign universities that they were associated with Chinese civilian universities. When actually most of them affiliated with military research, working on communications plans and sensitive weaponry whilst overseas.
The report states ‘The PLA Daily uses the saying “picking flowers in foreign lands to make honey in China” to explain how it seeks to leverage overseas expertise, research and training to develop better military technology’.
Mr Joske said that this situation was used to benefit the Chinese military, as they now have intel on overseas research on weaponry and communications.
Behind Singapore’s Nayang Technological University, The University of New South Wales has the second highest number of Chinese military scientists published research papers.
Canberra’s Australian National University is listed eighth.
Report warns government to investigate visa applications
The report warns recommended governments to improve investigations into Chinese military scientists’ visa applications. They also suggest to contain delicate technology transfers to non-allied military members.
Whilst General Angus Campbell, Australia’s secretary of Defence Greg Moriarty and Defence Force Chief travelled to Beijing for the annual Australia-China Defence Strategic Dialogue on Monday.
General Campbell said that this dialogue is valuable in order to have open and forthright conversations.
General Campbell stated after the conference:
‘This year’s exchange of views was again productive and included discussions on maintaining regional peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the South China Sea.’
Recently, Defence officials advised the need to be able to enter and search Australian universities, as some of the technology could be intended for weapons.
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