By Damien Cave | The New York Times |
SYDNEY, Australia — The Australian authorities raided the home and office of a federal lawmaker on Friday as part of a sweeping investigation into allegations of a Chinese government plot to manipulate the politics and policy of Parliament.
Shaoquett Moselmane, a Labor politician from a Sydney suburb, recently praised China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, for his response to the coronavirus pandemic, a message sharply at odds with the Australian government’s subsequent call for a global inquiry into the outbreak’s origins.
Australia’s national security agency confirmed that a search warrant had been executed as part of an ongoing investigation, and Labor Party leaders quickly announced that Mr. Moselmane’s membership would be suspended. The authorities have not made public any evidence of illegal activities by Mr. Moselmane, who could not be reached for comment.
The case is the first high-profile criminal investigation of Chinese influence peddling to be made public since Australia passed a suite of foreign interference and espionage laws two years ago. The measures were aimed directly at Beijing’s attempt to shape the country’s politics through donations, promises and pressure on politicians at every level of government.