China 'highly alarmed'
China said yesterday it was "highly alarmed" over threats to its national security, after a state-run newspaper accused Australia of spying on the country and stealing its technology.
An employee of China's national security department told the Global Times that Australian intelligence agents "in disguise" collect information from Chinese people overseas or "even encourage them to subvert China".
The report, published on the nationalistic newspaper's front page, comes weeks after Beijing rejected allegations of interference in Australian politics.
"We are highly alarmed and remain alert on other countries' actions to endanger China's national security and state interests," foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a regular briefing.
"(The report) reminds me that recently the Australian media also played up reports on so-called Chinese spying."
According to the Global Times, Australian agents closely monitor Chinese people and the embassy in Australia to foil "Chinese spy threats".
"In global covert struggles, Australia had never played the role of victim," the unidentified staffer was quoted as saying.
"However, they are wantonly working on intelligence about China and groundlessly accusing China of spying on them. The logic is ridiculous."
The Australian government did not immediately respond to the allegations.
The article followed an Australian media report this month that the country's intelligence agencies had major concerns China was interfering with Australian institutions and using political donations to gain access.
An investigation by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Fairfax Media found the country's political elite had been warned two years ago about taking donations from two billionaires with links to the Chinese Communist Party.