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Australia cracks down on foreign political influence

ReutersSYDNEY (Reuters) — Australia, concerned about rising Chinese influence, will ban foreign political donations as part of a crackdown aimed at preventing external interference in domestic politics, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Tuesday.

Turnbull told reporters in Canberra that foreign powers were making “unprecedented and increasingly sophisticated attempts to influence the political process” in Australia and the world. He cited “disturbing reports about Chinese influence.”

Australia and neighboring New Zealand are among roughly a third of countries worldwide that allow foreign donations to political parties. Such donations are prohibited in the United States, Britain and several European countries.

Australia’s new laws, modeled in part on the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act, would criminalize foreign interference and require the registration of lobbyists working for nation states, Turnbull said.

The announcement came as concern grows that Beijing may be extending its influence and as relationships between Australian politicians and Chinese government interests have become increasingly contentious.Speech

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