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China wants to 'take over' Australian politics: Ex-spy chief

China wants to take over Australian politics: Ex-spy chief

Sydney: China is seeking to "take over" Australia's political system with an "insidious" and systematic campaign of espionage and influence-peddling, Canberra's ex-spymaster said in an interview published Friday.

Duncan Lewis, who resigned in September after five years at the head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), said China could target anyone in political office, with the impact potentially not known for years to come.

"Espionage and foreign interference is insidious. Its effects might not present for decades and by that time it's too late," Lewis was quoted as telling the Sydney Morning Herald in his first interview since leaving office.

"You wake up one day and find decisions made in our country that are not in the interests of our country," he said.

"Not only in politics but also in the community or in business. It takes over, basically, pulling the strings from offshore," he added in the interview with the newspaper's foreign editor.

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