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RENEWED CALL FOR A RADICAL REDUCTION IN CHINA’S DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR PRESENCE IN AUSTRALIA

30 November 2020

South Australian Senator Rex Patrick today renewed his call on the Australian Government to force a large reduction in China’s diplomatic and consular presence in Australia.

“The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s grossly insulting attack on Australia leaves little doubt that the Chinese Communist regime has no interest in improving relations with Australia at this time,” Senator Patrick said. 

“The Chinese Government has rebuffed all efforts by Australia to reset relations. Australia must make a substantive response – not just in words but with action.” 

“It’s time to require China greatly reduce its bloated diplomatic presence in Australia and close some of their consulates.”

In July this year I argued that Australia’s Australian national security interests require the numbers of Chinese diplomatic and consular staff in our country be radically reduced.

“Since that time, notwithstanding the radical downturn in bilateral relations, China’s bloated official presence in Australia has remained largely unchanged.” 

“With 143 diplomats and consular staff, China still has by far the largest number of operatives here in Australia, considerably more than any other country. Those officially accredited personnel are supported by large support staff at their Canberra Embassy and consulates in state capitals.”

“China should never have been allowed to expand diplomatic and consular presence to the point where it is larger than that of our principal ally, the United States, and significantly greater than the representation of our other partners including the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Japan, and other major powers, notably India.”

“China’s representation is very clearly in excess of legitimate diplomatic and consular requirements.” 

“China’s ‘diplomacy’ is now little more than abuse and Australian ministers are ignored by their Chinese counterparts. China’s diplomats are not working to build good relations – quite the contrary.” 

“It’s also well established that China’s diplomats and consular staff have been actively engaged in supporting espionage and political interference over many years. A large proportion of China’s diplomats and consular staff are officers of the Ministry of State Security, the Intelligence Departments of the People’s Liberation Army, and the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party, or are active collaborators with those intelligence agencies.”

“In these circumstances China’s representation in Australia should be reduced by a least two thirds.”

“A large reduction in China’s representation would have a major impact on Chinese espionage and political interference in Australia,” Senator Patrick said.

“While China could be expected to retaliate against Australia’s diplomatic presence in China, the current state of bilateral relations is such that Australia’s diplomats are effectively excluded from Chinese Government decision makers anyway.”

“In any case it is vital that Australia send an unambiguous message to the Chinese Foreign Ministry that we won’t accept their outrageous behaviour and we’re prepared to match words with action that directly impacts on their interests.”