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22 February 2022

Independent Senator Rex Patrick today called on the Australian Government to declare China’s defence attaché in Canberra persona non grata and require their departure from Australia within a week.

“The unprovoked laser attack by a Chinese warship on a Royal Australian Air Force aircraft operating over Australian waters was unquestionably an aggressive act, intended to intimidate,” Senator Patrick. 

“The Chinese Government’s refusal to accept fault for this serious incident and their spurious claim that Australia is ‘spreading malicious disinformation’ requires an emphatic response from the Australian Government to register just how unacceptable China’s behaviour has and continues to be.”

“At a minimum, Foreign Minister Marise Payne should now act to declare China’s defence attaché in Canberra persona non grata and require him to leave Australia without delay.”

“There is no effective defence cooperation or dialogue between China and Australia at present. Chinese defence attachés only support the espionage activities of Chinese military intelligence, the Second Department of the People’s Liberation Army General Staff.”

“The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Diplomatic List identifies China’s current defence attaché in Canberra as Lieutenant Colonel Jiang Tuan.”

“In addition to requiring the removal of Lieutenant Colonel Jiang, the Australian Government should also declare persona non grata all Chinese Embassy personnel known to be working in the defence attaché’s office and all other Chinese diplomatic and consular personnel known to be members of the People’s Liberation Army.” 

“Prime Minister Scott Morrison has spoken loudly about China. However his Government has taken no concrete action in response to Beijing’s punitive actions against Australian trade and numerous other provocations.”

“Strong words are an insufficient reply to this latest act of attempted intimidation. Expulsion of China’s defence attaché would be a proportionate response to the provocative and irresponsible behaviour of China’s navy.”