Australia intel chair urges asylum for Chinese defector

A Chinese defector gave Australia's counter-espionage agency the identities of Beijing's intelligence officers in Hong Kong and provided details of how they conduct operations in Australia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Australian media reported

A Chinese spy who shared information documenting Beijing's political interference operations abroad should be granted asylum after defecting to Australia, the country's parliamentary intelligence chief said Sunday.

Wang "William" Liqiang reportedly gave Australia's counter-espionage agency the identities of China's senior military intelligence officers in Hong Kong and provided details of how they funded and conducted operations in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia.

Wang said he was personally involved in infiltration and disruption operations in all three territories.

Government politician Andrew Hastie said Sunday that Wang -- who is reportedly living in Sydney with his wife and infant son on a tourist visa -- should be allowed to stay.

"I'm of the view that anyone who's willing to assist us in defending our sovereignty deserves our protection," Mr Hastie told Australia's Nine network newspapers, which first reported Wang's claims.

Hastie, a vocal critic of Beijing, was banned from entering China last week along with another politician.

He has previously said Australia's sovereignty and freedoms could be threatened by Beijing.

Australia's Department of Home Affairs, which deals with immigration matters, would not comment on Wang's case.

Wang has told Nine's 60 Minutes programme that he will be executed if he returns to China.

China has sought to discredit Wang, accusing him of being an unemployed fraudster and fugitive.

Australian counter-intelligence officials warned earlier this year that the threat of foreign interference was "unprecedented" and that the number of foreign spies in Australia was higher than during the Cold War.

The agency has never publicly named China in its warnings.

But the recently retired head of the agency, Duncan Lewis, said in an interview published Friday that China wanted to "take over" Australia's political system with an "insidious" and systematic campaign of espionage and influence-peddling.