China’s Communist Party wants to know what is being said about the regime and their journalists are their eyes and ears.
The first job of every Chinese state media newsroom in Australia is to compile and translate a list of local media stories to send to Beijing.
They want to know which politicians are hostile, which business leaders are sympathetic and what media outlets are criticising them.
The reason I know this is because I used to work as a senior editor for Xinhua’s English language news department in Sydney.
Xinhua News Agency is China’s largest and most powerful state-owned media organisation.
A bizarre scuffle broke out between a senior Chinese state media journalist (pictured) and an Australian cameraman covering Scott Morrison’s media conference
Indian protesters burn posters of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Mumbai after 20 troops were killed in a border stoush with Chinese military
While Chinese state media journalists mostly spend their time drumming up stories like any other reporters around the globe, part of their job is also to report information back to Beijing – information that is never intended to be published.
I was never asked to this, but for Chinese-born journalists working there it was a core part of their job.
I saw first hand how Chinese-born journalists in Australia reported back to their masters in the Communist Party.
One of the Chinese media companies operating in Australia, Xinhua News, made headlines this week.
A Chinese journalist for the agency sparked a bizarre row with an Australian cameraman on Friday.
The media had gathered at parliament house to cover Scott Morrion’s press conference.
Tensions flared in the Prime Minister’s Courtyard when Bai Xu, the chief of Xinhua New’s Canberra bureau, became angry that a SBS cameraman was filming her.
The Australian cameraman turned his lens on the Chinese reporter after witnesses claimed a photographer Ms Xu was with was taking photos of other journalists.
Tensions flared in the Prime Minister’s Courtyard when Bai Xu (pictured), the chief of Xinhua’s Canberra bureau, became angry that a SBS cameraman was filming her
A banner of the Chinese leader is torn in half at an anti-China rally in earlier this week in India
The unusual scene became even more heated when Ms Xu put her hand over the lens and told the cameraman to stop filming.
But as the incident drew the eye of other Australian journalists and the federal police, the two Chinese reporters quickly left the courtyard, the Daily Telegraph reported.
The incident was a clumsy slip up from the normally low-key Xinhua team, particularly on a day when Australian spooks had the country in their crosshairs.
ASIO officers on Friday busted down the doors of New South Wales Labor MP Shaoquett Moselmane’s home and office over allegations of Chinese interference in politics.
The Lebanese-born backbencher, known for singing the praises of Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party, is now the target of the federal government’s new national security and espionage laws.
Australian intelligence services are investigating whether Mr Moselmane and the New South Wales parliament, has been compromised by the authoritarian regime.
An investigator is pictured entering the home of Mr Moselmane who is now the target of new national security and espionage laws
Shaoquett Moselmane (pictured) is outspoken in his praise for the Chinese Communist Party and the authoritarian leadership Xi Jinping
The Labor backbencher’s Sydney home and office was raided by ASIO officials and the federal police on Friday, who are pictured
Part of the new counter-espionage push is the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme which requires companies and personnel in Australia, who are acting on behalf of foreign principals in the political sphere, to register their activities with intelligence services.
At the moment, foreign journalists including those from Chinese State media are not required to register.
But this week, the US State Department cracked down on organisations like Xinhua, Global Times, People’s Daily, CCTV and CGTN, designating all Chinese media entities as ‘Foreign Missions’.
‘Over the past decade and particularly under General Secretary Xi Jinping’s tenure, the CCP has reorganised China’s state propaganda outlets disguised as news agencies and asserted even more direct control over them,’ US State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortasus said.
‘He has stated ‘Party-owned media must … embody the party’s will, safeguard the party’s authority … their actions must be highly consistent with the party.’ In short, while Western media are beholden to the truth, PRC media are beholden to the Chinese Communist Party.’
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured) speaks to the media at Friday’s media conference