Australia’s security agencies are being encouraged to better engage the country’s Chinese communities in the fight against foreign interference and intimidation from Beijing.
Dave Sharma, a Liberal politician and career diplomat, says Chinese Australians should be harnessed as assets.
He believes these communities need to be aware of vulnerabilities and alert to attempts to recruit them.
“Australia’s Islamic community has been a great resource in fighting attempts by the Islamic State group to radicalise our citizens and turn them against Australia,” Mr Sharma said on Tuesday.
“We need to have the same level of cooperation with Australia’s Chinese communities.”
Mr Sharma says security agencies need to actively recruit more Chinese Australians and Mandarin speakers.
“This will require a new approach to security clearances,” he said.
“Many candidates are being turned away and others are leaving government service because of this issue.”
More broadly, Mr Sharma says Australia must remain calm and patient in the face of deteriorating relations with China.
“We should avoid overreaction or panic. We must recognise that Beijing is testing us and should expect continued turbulence,” he said.
“Australia should articulate its red lines clearly to Beijing and seek reciprocal respect for them.”
In a brief published by the China Matters policy institute, Mr Sharma also stressed the need for closer ties with regional allies including India and Japan, and said Taiwan should be invited to join a trans-Pacific trade pact.