China meets Australian ambassador amid ‘influence’ debate


China meets Australian ambassador amid 'influence' debate

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Image caption Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull on a visit to China last year

Australia's ambassador to China was summoned to a meeting with Beijing officials last week amid strained ties between the nations.

Jan Adams met with foreign ministry officials on Friday, Australian media outlets reported.

It came three days after Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull cited "disturbing reports of Chinese influence" – among other reasons – in announcing a crackdown on foreign interference.

China has denied any such activity.

Details of the diplomatic meeting are not known. The Australian newspaper reported that China's ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jingye, also made official representations to a senior Canberra official on Monday.

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Last week, Mr Turnbull stressed that wide-ranging measures to prevent external influence in political activity were not aimed at one country.

However, Beijing criticised his reference to China and said the comments had damaged trust between the nations.

"We are strongly dissatisfied with those remarks and have lodged stern representations with the Australian side," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said on Friday.

China's embassy in Canberra had separately accused Australian media outlets of fabricating "anti-China hysteria".

Discussion about possible Chinese influence on aspects of Australian society has intensified in recent months.

On Monday, Australian Senator Sam Dastyari announced he would resign following scrutiny over his relationship with a Chinese businessman. Mr Dastyari denied ever violating his "parliamentary oath".

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