China-Australia rift deepens as Beijing tests overseas sway

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Australia’s ban on Chinese telecoms giant Huawei’s involvement in its future 5G networks and its crackdown on foreign covert interference are testing Beijing’s efforts to project its power overseas.

In its latest maneuver, China sent three scholars to spell out in interviews with Australian media and other appearances steps to mend the deepening rift with Beijing — a move that appears to have fallen flat.

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After meetings in Beijing last week, Richard Marles, the opposition’s defense spokesman, assessed the relationship as “terrible.”

A growing number of Australians are convinced that Beijing has been using inducements, threats, espionage and other clandestine tactics to influence their politics.

Officials downplay talk of a diplomatic freeze, mindful of the need to keep relations with their resource-rich country’s largest export market on an even keel.