On 21 April, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Attorney-General George Brandis launched the inaugural Australia-China High-Level Security Dialogue, with Secretary Meng Jianzhu, head of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Commission for Political and Legal Affairs (CCPLA). Prime Minister Turnbull announced the new dialogue with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during his visit to Australia in March.
The Dialogue was co-chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ms Frances Adamson and the Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department Mr Chris Moraitis PSM, with CCPLA Secretary-General Wang Yongqing. The Dialogue included exchanges on legal and judicial issues, transnational crime and related bilateral cooperation. Australia reaffirmed its commitment to pursue ratification of the bilateral extradition treaty. During the dialogue, Australia and China agreed to strengthen law enforcement cooperation and deepen dialogue on cyber issues and counter-terrorism.
Australia and China agreed the next round of the High-Level Security Dialogue would take place at senior officials’ level in Beijing. The Dialogue agreed on the Joint Statement below.
Australia-China High-Level Security Dialogue
Held on 21 April 2017 in Sydney
In accordance with the consensus reached between Prime Minister Turnbull and Premier Li Keqiang in Australia on 24 March 2017, the first session of the Australia-China High-Level Security Dialogue was convened in Sydney on 21 April 2017.
The opening session of the Dialogue was launched by the Minister of Foreign Affairs the Hon Julie Bishop MP and the Attorney-General Senator the Hon George Brandis QC for Australia, and the Secretary of the Central Commission for Political and Legal Affairs (CCPLA) Mr Meng Jianzhu for China. The Dialogue was co-chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ms Frances Adamson and the Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department Mr Chris Moraitis PSM with the Secretary-General of the CCPLA Mr Wang Yongqing. Key topics of discussion, as agreed between leaders, included counter-terrorism, countering cybercrime, transnational crime, justice issues and other important issues related to security.
The two delegations agreed to the following areas of cooperation, to be conducted in accordance with the respective laws and regulations of the two countries:
1. Cooperation on legal and judicial issues
(1) Australia and China agreed to strengthen cooperation on legal and judicial issues and to consult on a regular basis through educational exchanges and delegations of officials and judicial officers and through the bilateral Legal Talks and the High-Level Security Dialogue. Australia reaffirmed its commitment to pursue ratification of the bilateral extradition treaty.
(2 ) Australia and China agreed to strengthen pragmatic cooperation under the criminal justice framework, and improve efficiency and quality of cooperation.
(3) Australia and China agreed to strengthen cooperation under the framework of the prisoner transfer treaty.
2. Cybersecurity Cooperation
(1) Australia and China reaffirmed their commitment to a peaceful, secure, open and cooperative Information and Communications Technology environment. They agreed to support the work of the UN Group of Governmental Experts and to act in accordance with its reports.
(2) Under the Australia-China High-Level Security Dialogue mechanism, the two countries will establish a mechanism to share information to assist in the fight against and prevention of cybercrime. Under this mechanism, the two sides will discuss issues related to cybersecurity and fighting cybercrime and communicate relevant information and experience with the aim of preventing cyber incidents that could create problems between the two states. The two countries will work together to counter malicious cyber actors, internet distribution of child sex abuse material, e-mail scams and other transnational cybercrime activities, as well as to identify through consultation key incidents and carry out joint law enforcement actions.
(3) Australia and China agreed to discuss options for joint operations to combat cybercrime.
(4) The two countries will exchange cybersecurity delegations, relevant legal and regulatory documents and learn about each other’s legal environment, law enforcement procedures and other relevant circumstances through meetings, communication on individual cases as well as other methods, so as to enhance cooperation and mutual trust.
(5) Australia and China agreed not to conduct or support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, trade secrets or confidential business information with the intent of obtaining competitive advantage.
3. Combating terrorism
(1) Australia and China agreed that carrying out counter-terrorism cooperation, on the basis of mutual respect, is consistent with their common interests. The two sides agreed to conduct pragmatic cooperation on threats posed by terrorism through the bilateral Counter-Terrorism Dialogue, High-Level Security Dialogue, and the China-Australia ministerial level mechanism to fight transnational crime and counter terrorism.
(2) In light of the challenges facing the international community to combat terrorism, Australia and China agreed to enhance the exchange of information and intelligence on terrorism threats and trends, including on returning terrorist fighters, and share counter-terrorism approaches and experiences through established bilateral cooperative mechanisms.
(3) Australia and China agreed to explore increasing cooperation on counter-terrorism, including countering terrorist use of the internet.
4. Combating transnational crime
(1) Australia and China will enhance cooperation on law enforcement in drug control, illegal immigrants, money laundering, fraud and other areas that are of concern to both sides.
(2) Australia and China will enhance the existing framework to strengthen law enforcement cooperation to investigate individuals involved in transnational crime, including corruption, which may also involve the potential restraint and confiscation of criminal assets.
(3) Australia and China agree to cooperate more closely on economic criminal matters. Following the dialogue, Australia and China will designate leading agencies, enhance communication and improve efficiency and form a joint working group to discuss, identify and implement practical ways to address these matters. This group will draw on lessons from joint operations like Taskforce Blaze.
(4) Australia and China agreed that the third phase of the China-Australia Joint Anti-narcotic Operations shall be implemented, and such joint operations shall be gradually transformed into a normal cooperation mechanism.
(5) Australia and China agreed to further expanding the pragmatic cooperation in law enforcement, based on the Agreement on Combating Transnational Crime and Developing Police Cooperation between Ministry of Public Security of China and the Australian Federal Police.
5. Second Session of the Dialogue
The two sides confirmed that the second session of the China-Australia High-Level Security Dialogue will be held in China in the first half of 2018. The High-Level Security Dialogue will be co-chaired by senior officials on an ongoing basis.