Relations between China and Australia have not been lacking bumps and jolts recently.
On Saturday, The Australian newspaper reported that the country's national security ser-vice is investigating claims that the Australian branch of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei employs technicians in Australia with direct links to the People's Liberation Army and the Chinese government.
Current and former Huawei employees, who are all Australian nationals working for its branch in Sydney and Melbourne, approached the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) with their concerns, the paper said.
Their claims include that the Chinese government controls Huawei's operations and that the privately owned company is involved in cyber espionage against Australian interests, ac-cording to the paper.
A spokesman from Huawei on Friday described the claims as "inaccurate and groundless" and was quoted by the newspaper as saying that "Huawei is100 percent employee-owned and no government or government agencies have any involvement or ownership in our operations."
"The investigations instantly strike me as a new round of retaliation against China after the Rio Tinto spy case," Professor Ren Xiao, from the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, told the Global Times.
"It's obvious that Australia is engaging in negative interaction with China," Ren said. "If the Australian government fails to take action, bilateral relations are likely to go downhill."
David Irvine, who was referred to by the paper earlier this year as a "career spy," now heads the ASIO. Irvine was the Australian ambassador to China from 2000 to 2003.
Huawei, which employs more than 100 people in Sydney and about 20 in Melbourne, was founded by Ren Zhengfei, a former People's Liberation Army officer who served as a deputy of China's National People's Congress between 1982 and 1987.
So far the Australian government and intelligence department haven't officially commented on this issue. Apart from The Australian, no other Australian media have reported the case.
Source: Global Times