http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/world/op-ed-china-accuses-australia-of-spying-irritated-yawns-from-aussies/article/574041

Op-Ed: China accuses Australia of spying – Irritated yawns from Aussies

Posted Jun 30, 2020 by Paul Wallis
This is getting monotonous. Chinese claims about Australian trade, and now espionage, are reaching farcical levels. China’s diplomacy has sunk to “Yell your head off if you’ve got nothing to talk about” levels.
File photo of the People's Republic of China flag
File photo of the People's Republic of China flag
Attila Kisbenedek, AFP/File
The latest claims from the Global Times are like something out of a particularly unimaginative 1960s spy movie. According to the Global Times, Australian agents were arrested, and one of them was caught with a USB stick, a compass, and a map.
There was no information about exactly who was arrested. No information was provided regarding what was on the USB stick. Exactly why an “agent” would be using a compass and a map and similar antiques wasn’t elaborated upon, either.
The Global Times, undeterred by its apparent total lack of hard information, names, facts, or anything else, went on to describe Australia as a veteran in espionage. Aw, gosh, shucks, Lao Ma, (old horse) you do know how to flatter. The article also stated that Australian spies were using diplomatic passports. Australia was described as a thief calling “Stop, thief!”, an extremely old children’s storyline.
This information comes as Chinese and Australian relations deteriorate on an hourly basis. China’s apparent overenthusiasm to lose billions of dollars’ worth of trade and business with Australia also continues, it seems.
We couldn’t possibly care less
Australia lost interest in this geopolitical babble some months ago. Some time before the 80% tariffs on our barley started, in fact.
Over the last year or so, China’s other donations to Australia included:
• A defecting Chinese spy boss detailing information about Chinese operations in Australia. (China says the defector is a ‘fraud’, an interesting expression to use when trying to discredit someone.)
• Ongoing tensions about China’s pushy behavior in the region.
• A massive cyberattack identified by senior officials as coming from China.
• Inexcusable disrespect from the Chinese ambassador regarding Australia’s call for a pandemic inquiry supported by 62 other nations.
• The truly pitiful, months-long multinational pandemic PR war, in which China seems to have decided it’s all nothing to do with them.
A few basic points about espionage, real or imaginary
All countries, without exception, conduct espionage. Nobody, however, except in the rather desperate imagination of the Global Times, conducts espionage on such a peanut-vending basis as described.
A compass? A map? Anything a schoolkid could buy at a newsagent is “espionage equipment”? What, no secret cache of crayons and marker pens, or other deadly weapons?
Yes, of course. Diplomats and other people under constant surveillance are the ideal people to use as agents. Wearing a few large billboards saying Spies R Us might help, too. We fiendish inscrutable Australians know all about these things.
If the arrests were in 2018, China has kept remarkably silent about them until now. No gloating? No Wolf Warriors catching the filthy capitalists with their decadent compasses in hand? No deranged foreign devils poring over a map? How odd. Nothing of the sort got a mention in the media here. Nor was it publicly raised at official levels.
Conducting any sort of espionage in China could also be described as more than a bit redundant. Why go looking for technology in China, for example, when we could simply buy it from the original sources? Or just ring the designers and ask?
Round-the-clock cyberattacks are what we’re used to around here. Remarkably few compasses and maps seem to be in use. Squeaking noises from irrelevant global media nonentities aside, the facts as we know them are quite a bit different.