What is really in Australia's new foreign interference laws?

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull meets China's Premier Li Keqiang in Canberra in March 23

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull meets China's Premier Li Keqiang in Canberra in March 23

Brandis said the government's proposal to require former politicians, lobbyists and executives working for foreign interests to register if they sought to influence politics in Australia would likely include people such as the former New South Wales premier and federal foreign affairs minister Bob Carr, who is now a director of the Australia-China Relations Institute.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Tuesday the laws would limit political meddling by overseas governments.

China reacts furiously to proposed foreign interference laws, accusing the Australian Government of making "irresponsible" comments which have hurt "political mutual trust".

The prime minister said his efforts were not focused on a single malignant foreign power, but he prominently mentioned China and spoke harshly of embattled Senator Sam Dastyari, who resigned from his leadership positions this week over a scandal involving Chinese influence buying.

The first element is a new register of foreign interests, called the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme, where anyone "engaging with the Australian political landscape on behalf of a foreign state" must sign up.

The statement did not name specific reports.

"China always follows the principle of mutual respect and non-interference in each other's internal affairs when it comes to developing friendly cooperation with other countries, and this principle holds true for developing bilateral ties with Australia", Mr Geng said.

The Australian media has "repeatedly fabricated" stories about Chinese influence and infiltration in Australia, China has claimed.

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Brandis said the new arrangement would also likely apply to the former trade minister Andrew Robb in his new role as a lobbyist for a Chinese firm.

It has been noted that Ye Cheng, the owner of the Landbridge Group, is a member of China's People's Political Consultative Conference, a political organ controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and commonly used to coordinate propaganda and "United Front" operations-initiatives in which organizations or individuals who are not part of the CCP are recruited to advance the CCP's interests, often unknowingly.

A register will be set up publishing the names of any person or entity who seeks to influence political processes on behalf of a foreign state or principal, based on the foreign agent registration arrangements in the US. "The work of my department, the work of ASIO, the Attorney-General and others, revealed the magnitude of the threat, but also that agencies lacked the legislative tools they needed to act".

He said the laws are not about the loyalties of Australians born elsewhere, and "there is no place for racism or xenophobia in our country".

The definitions of treason and espionage will also be broadened to include possessing or receiving sensitive information, rather than only transmitting it.

At the time, Mr Dastyari was addressing the Chinese community media and was standing next to property developer Huang Xiangmo, a billionaire who has made extensive donations to Labor and who has links to the Chinese Communist Party.

The foreign interference offences would target covert, deceptive or threatening actions by foreign actors, the government said.

There are four bills in the Turnbull government's foreign interference reforms.

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