politics

Australian Lawmaker Dastyari Quits Amid China-Link Allegations

Australian Senator Sam Dastyari 

Photographer: William West/AFP via Getty Images

Australian Senator Sam Dastyari resigned from parliament on Tuesday amid mounting criticism of his links with a Chinese businessman who had ties to the Communist Party.

Dastyari, a member of the main opposition Labor Party, last month came under pressure amid media reports that he warned the businessman that his phones were being tapped by Australian intelligence agencies. He had previously been demoted from party positions in 2016 after admitting that a Chinese company had paid a A$1,670 ($1,258) travel bill for him.

“After much reflection I’ve decided that the best service I can render to the federal parliamentary Labor Party is to not return to the Senate in 2018,” Dastyari, 34, told reporters in Sydney.

The resignation comes amid increasing concerns about Chinese influence in Australia, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week introducing legislation to limit political meddling by foreign powers. Turnbull’s Liberal-National coalition has attacked Dastyari’s credibility, saying he had been working to advance the interests of another country.

China’s rising soft-power influence has become an increasing concern in the Asia-Pacific, and Australia and its main ally the U.S. have criticized the nation for building artificial outposts on reefs in the South China Sea.

Pressure mounted on Dastyari last month after an audio recording revealed that in June 2016 he’d downplayed concerns about China’s military buildup in the South China Sea, contradicting government policy and that of the Labor party.

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