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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 June, 2005, 09:28 GMT 10:28 UK
Second Chinese man in asylum bid
Chen Yonglin 4/6/05
Chen Yonglin claimed China has a large spy network in Australia
A second Chinese official has made a bid for political asylum in Australia, days after diplomat Chen Yonglin announced he had applied for refuge.

Hao Fengjun told ABC television he used to work for China's security services, and had travelled to Australia on a tourist visa to seek asylum.

He backed claims by Mr Chen that China had up to 1,000 spies in Australia.

The asylum bids come at a delicate time, as Australia and China are trying to deepen economic and political ties.

Australia has yet to rule on either asylum bid, and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has said Mr Chen's bid would be judged on its merit.

Falun Gong

Mr Chen, 37, used to work as the Chinese consul for political affairs in Sydney.

But about two weeks ago he abandoned his job because, he said, he could no longer support China's persecution of dissidents.

He said he had been responsible for monitoring Chinese dissident activity in Australia, including that of members of the spiritual movement Falun Gong, which is banned in China.

Mr Chen, who also said that there were up to 1,000 Chinese spies in Australia, is now believed to have gone into hiding with his wife and daughter.

China has accused him of making up stories to avoid going home, since he had reached the end of his four-year stint in Australia.

"The rumours spread by Chen Yonglin are total slander and hopefully you will not take it in easily," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said on Tuesday.

But Mr Chen has found an ally in Hao Fengjun, who said he worked in the Chinese city of Tianjin and monitored groups like Falun Gong.

"I worked in the police office in the Security Bureau and I believe that what Mr Chen says is true," Mr Hao told ABC late on Tuesday night.

"As far as I know, [the Chinese authorities] have spies in the consulate, but they also have a network of spies they've sent out," he said.

"They send businessmen and students out to overseas countries as spies. They also infiltrate the Falun Gong and other dissident groups," Mr Hao said.

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