China’s Operation Australia: payments, power and politicians

Do as I say – not as I do!

Australia’s major political parties have accepted millions of dollars in donations from two key Chinese businessmen. ASIO is concerned. So has Australian politics been compromised?



The cold Canberra air had yet to be tempered by the dawn when plainclothes agents from ASIO and a locksmith assembled outside an apartment in the upmarket suburb of Kingston.

The locksmith’s work done, the agents filed past two wooden Chinese artefacts standing like sentries at the entrance, and up a single flight of stairs into the apartment. The living room was decorated with exquisite porcelain vases and a dozen half-melted candles on a table.

The apartment belonged to Roger Uren, a tall, bookish man with thinning silver hair. Before resigning in August 2001, Uren was the assistant secretary of the Office of National Assessments (ONA), the agency that briefs the Prime Minister on highly classified intelligence matters.

Uren’s speciality was China. Foreign affairs sources in Canberra say he was regarded as one of Australia’s leading sinologists. In 2011, prime minister Kevin Rudd was reportedly considering appointing him as Australia’s ambassador in Beijing.

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