ASIO rejects talk of 'targeting' Chinese

ASIO head Duncan Lewis denies the spy agency is targeting the Chinese-Australian community.
ASIO head Duncan Lewis denies the spy agency is targeting the Chinese-Australian community.

ASIO boss Duncan Lewis has flatly rejected suggestions the security agency is targeting the Chinese-Australian community.

Several Chinese-language newspapers made the assertion at the weekend, while criticising Australia's treatment of exiled billionaire Huang Xiangmo, whose permanent residency has been cancelled.

"This is simply not so," Mr Lewis told a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra on Monday.

"ASIO does not investigate people based on their ethnicity, their religion, or their cultural background. ASIO's investigative focus is on individuals and their activities of relevance to security."

Mr Lewis highlighted the dangers of falsely suggesting ASIO targets specific communities.

"It's critical that we avoid commentary that will instil fear and taint such a community that makes such a positive contribution," he said.

"From a security point of view, the overwhelming majority of people with Chinese heritage here in Australia are of no investigative interest to ASIO, as they are not of any security concern.

"We should not impugn the many for the actions of a few."

Australian Associated Press