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Australian police to probe 'Chinese spy' claims

[SYDNEY] Australian police will open a formal investigation into explosive claims by a self-styled Chinese spy who defected Down Under with an apparent trove of sensitive intelligence, an official told AFP Tuesday.

The Australian Federal Police will probe Wang Liqiang's claims - including allegations that China tried to recruit a Melbourne businessman and get him elected to parliament.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, declined to comment further but confirmed a statement about the investigation is expected later on Tuesday.

The target, Bo "Nick" Zhao - a 32-year-old luxury car dealer who was a member of the ruling Liberal Party - apparently rebuffed the offer and was found dead in a motel room in March.

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Mr Wang has told Australian media he knows the identities of China's senior military intelligence officers in Hong Kong and took part in covert influence operations there, as well as in Taiwan and Australia.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the allegations as "deeply disturbing and troubling".

The country's main spy agency, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), said it was aware of Mr Wang's claims and was actively investigating them.

Mr Wang is reportedly living in Sydney with his wife and infant son on a tourist visa.

China has accused him of being an unemployed fraudster and fugitive.

AFP