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Concern is rising over China’s growing influence

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Minister for International Development Concetta Fierravanti-Wells has accused China of lending funds to Pacific nations only to construct “useless buildings” and “roads to nowhere” in the region.

But the Chinese Foreign Ministry has hit back, saying the senator’s claims are full of ignorance and prejudice.

Ms Fierravanti-Wells’ comments follow the debacle between China and Australia’s relationship after Beijing lodged an official complaint over Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s accusations of foreign interference in Australia.

This war of words highlights a much more significant discussion: is Australia alert to China’s rising influence?

Chris Kenny speaks with Director of National Security at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute Dr Isaac Kfir.

“Aid buys you influence. There’s clear evidence that by providing assistance, you develop relations.

“China’s approach to development aid is deemed to be a state secret.

“This is something that is increasingly being discussed among Australian strategists. The need to be aware that China is on the campaign to extend its influence.

“The way to battle China’s growing influence is by expanding what makes Australia so great.”

Listen to the full interview now