Australia to pass bill against foreign interference amid tensions with China

Australia is expected to pass new legislation on Wednesday aimed at preventing interference by foreign governments. The move is likely to further stoke tensions with major trading partner China. Mirroring similar laws in the US, Australia’s Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme requires lobbyists working for foreign countries to register as foreign agents. They could also face criminal prosecution if they are deemed to be meddling in Canberra’s affairs, Reuters said. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last year referred to “disturbing reports about Chinese influence” as justification for the bill. The move has strained diplomatic and trade ties with China. China has denied allegations of meddling in Australian affairs and launched a diplomatic protest.