CANBERRA, June 6 Australia's Defence Minister
Stephen Smith left his laptop and mobile phone in Hong Kong to
avoid cyber espionage in mainland China where he will attend
bilateral defence minister talks on Wednesday, Australian media
Smith will hold an inaugural defence ministers' dialogue
with his Chinese counterpart Liang Guanglie, where the two are
expected to discuss China's concerns about U.S. marines being
stationed in northern Australia.
The United States has accused "Chinese actors" of being the
world's biggest perpetrators of economic espionage and U.S.
security experts warn of a rising number of Internet-based
attacks originating from China on U.S. corporate and government
computers. China rejects the charges.
Concerns over cyber security was heightened last month with
the discovery of the Flame virus, described as one of the most
sophisticated pieces of malicious software discovered to date.
Security experts said the Flame virus was infecting
computers in Iran and the Middle East and may have been deployed
at least five years ago to engage in state-sponsored cyber
Before entering China, both Smith and his staff left their
laptops and phones in Hong Kong to avoid potential interception,
the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported on Wednesday.
The anti-espionage precautions, rare for Australian
ministerial visits to other countries, were arranged by
Australia's defence department following allegations that
laptops and mobile phones were compromised during previous
ministerial visits to China, the newspaper said.
A spokeswoman from Smith's office declined to comment on the
report or specific arrangements for the visit.
Earlier this year, Australia blocked Huawei Technologies
, a Chinese telecommunication company, from bidding on
the national broadband network citing security concerns.
China is Australia's number one trading partner and the
biggest customer for Australian exports. Bilateral trade is
worth around A$105 billion a year with exports to China worth
A$65 billion in 2010-11.
(Reporting By Maggie Lu Yueyang; Editing by Michael Perry)