A Chinese spy who defected to Australia says he is seeking asylum after reportedly revealing details of political interference operations by Beijing to Australian intelligence.
Newspapers from media group Nine reported that Wang ‘William’ Liqiang had provided a trove of Chinese spying secrets to Australia's counter-espionage agency ASIO since he decided to defect in May.
‘I have personally been involved and participated in a series of espionage activities,’ Wang said in a statement to ASIO in October, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Wang said he was involved in covert operations to undermine Hong Kong's democracy movement and efforts to interfere in the political system in Taiwan.
‘This is the main reason I came to Australia to seek asylum. Once I was found out, my safety would be at stake,’ he said during a video interview with Channel Nine television, in comments dubbed into English.
In extracts of the interview - the full version of which is set for broadcast on Sunday - Wang said that if he goes back ‘I will be dead.’ Australia's Treasurer Josh Fydenberg told reporters on Saturday that the claim of espionage and a defecting Chinese spy was a ‘sensitive matter’ being investigated by the relevant authorities.
‘These are very disturbing reports and the matter is now in the hands of the appropriate law enforcement agencies,’ Frydenberg said, according to broadcaster ABC.
Wang claimed to be part of clandestine operations to infiltrate Hong Kong universities and media.
He also said he was part of the team that kidnapped booksellers who had sold books that displeased the Chinese Communist Party.
Wang said that his decision to defect came as he was about to be sent to Taiwan on a South Korean passport to run local operations to meddle in the 2020 elections.
Wang is currently living in Sydney with his wife and infant son on a tourist visa, the newspaper said.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese told reporters that Wang's claim for asylum is ‘a decision for the government’, and he is seeking a briefing on the matter with the appropriate agencies next week.
‘We need to make sure that Australia's national sovereignty is protected,’ the ABC reported Albanese as saying.
‘We know that he has outlined a range of activities which clearly put him in a circumstance whereby it's a legitimate claim for asylum.’
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