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Second Chinese Official Seeks Asylum In Australia

A second Chinese official is seeking political asylum in Australia. The former security agent has claimed he was a member of China's internal police force working to persecute dissidents. His bid for asylum follows a similar application by a senior Chinese diplomat in Sydney. Both men have claimed that Beijing has hundreds of spies in Australia. China has strongly denied the allegations.

Hao Feng Jun has said he worked as a police officer in a specialist security unit known as 610 in the port city of Tianjin in northern China. His primary responsibility was monitoring the activities of the Falun Gong meditation movement and Mr. Hao claims to have seen members of the group tortured. He insisted he has a catalogue of sensitive information about the way Beijing spies on its political opponents at home and overseas. He also has alleged that Beijing was sending businessmen and students to foreign countries to work as secret agents.

In February, while he was in Australia as a tourist, the 32-year-old former security official applied for political asylum. He is waiting to see if Canberra will grant him refugee status.

Mr. Hao is the second Chinese official to seek sanctuary in Australia in the past two weeks.

A senior diplomat, Chen Yonglin, is fighting to stay in the country after walking out from his job as the first secretary at the Chinese consulate-general in Sydney at the end of last month.

Mr. Chen claimed that 1,000 Chinese spies were operating in Australia and he is seeking to defect because of what he described as Beijing's "abusive treatment" of its political opponents. These allegations have been supported by Hao Feng Jun. He has told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that it is now far too dangerous for him to return to his homeland…

"If I go back to China, there is no doubt the Communist Government will certainly persecute me," he said. "They know I have confidential information, some of it top secret, and I will be severely punished."

Neither China nor Australia has yet commented on Mr. Hao's allegations or the status of his asylum application.

The former police officer said he was encouraged to speak out after fugitive diplomat Chen Yonglin had voiced his concerns about China's treatment of dissidents.

The Chinese ambassador in Canberra, Fu Ying, has denied Mr. Chen's claims, saying he has made up the stories so he can stay in Australia.

Australia's foreign minister, Alexander Downer, said the former diplomat is still in hiding somewhere in Sydney and is being considered for a protection visa, which would allow him to stay in the country.