Turnbull defends Australia after China criticism

This article is more than 12 months old

SYDNEY Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said he will "stand up" for Australia, brushing aside Chinese criticism of new foreign interference laws as fears rise of overseas meddling in domestic institutions.

Canberra has announced the wide-ranging reforms to espionage and foreign interference legislation, calling it an "extremely serious problem".

The proposed reforms drew a furious response from China, which also attacked local media stories about infiltration as fabricated and reflecting paranoia.

Beijinglodged an official protest with Canberra, saying the government should "immediately stop making wrong remarks" that would undermine trust and cooperation between the two countries.

But Mr Turnbull hit back, saying he was just defending Australian sovereignty.

"China, Chinese people stand up to their sovereignty, and they expect Australian people and particularly Australian leaders to stand up for theirs," he said.

Labour MP Sam Dastyari was forced to resign as deputy opposition whip late last month after reports he told a Chinese businessman that his phone was likely being tapped by intelligence agencies.

The man, Mr Huang Xiangmo, is a prominent Chinese political donor.- AFP