The name’s Smith…Stephen Smith. Um...could I borrow your phone please?
Photo © 2012 AP/Wong Maye-E
The federal government is playing down reports its defence minister took extraordinary precautions against Chinese espionage before arriving in Beijing for talks.
Stephen Smith and his entourage left mobile phones and laptops in Hong Kong before proceeding to mainland China, after such devices were reportedly compromised during previous ministerial visits, The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Wednesday.
His staff, including media advisers, were given fresh phones, with different numbers, for their visit to the mainland.
When asked about the report, Mr Smith's parliamentary secretary, Richard Marles, said Australia's relationship with China was "growing stronger by the day". (cough)
"China is a very important partner with Australia," he told Sky News. (cough cough)
Asked if the precaution signalled a degree of mistrust towards China, Mr Marles said it was always important to be conscious of security. (cough cough cough)
"When I travel abroad, I'm security conscious no matter which country I go to," he said. (coughing fit)
"But if you are talking about the relationship with China. It's a relationship where trust is growing." (tuberculosis)
Of course, you don’t need to go through his phone to know what he’s really thinking there.
By the way….he does know Hong Kong is also part of China, doesn’t he?