Oct. 31 - China demands an explanation from the United States after a report in an Australian newspaper said Australian embassies, including the one in Beijing, were being used as part of a U.S.-led spying operation. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION). STORY: China on Thursday (October 31) demanded an explanation from the United States after a report in an Australian newspaper said Australian embassies, including the one in Beijing, were being used as part of a U.S.-led spying operation. The Sydney Morning Herald said on Thursday that the intelligence collection takes place in Australian embassies across Asia, as well as other diplomatic missions, without most Australian diplomats knowing about it. "China is extremely concerned about this report and ask that the U.S. offer a clarification and explanation. We also ask that foreign embassies in China and their staff respect the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, and other international treaties and should not get involved in any activities which do not accord with their status or jobs and harm China's security and interests," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing. China and Australia had a consensus to increase cooperation, and both viewed the other as a development opportunity, Hua added. China's own security services are widely believed to run a sophisticated tapping and surveillance operation, at least domestically, though the government denies accusations it tries to hack into overseas computer networks. China, a major trading partner in the midst of negotiations on a free-trade agreement with Australia, expressed concern earlier this week after Australia's newly elected government said it was upholding a ban on China's Huawei Technologies from bidding for work on the country's $38 billion National Broadband Network. The political uproar over alleged U.S. eavesdropping on close European allies produced an unusual defence from the National Security Agency this week - NSA Director General Keith Alexander said it was the Europeans themselves who did the spying, and then handed the data to the Americans. Alexander's disclosure at a public congressional hearing marked yet another milestone in the NSA's emergence from the shadows to defend its electronic surveillance mission in the wake of damaging revelations by former agency contractor Edward Snowden.