In the last year, three Chinese diplomatic officials have defected while serving in Australia, and asked for political asylum. All three have reported that China is engaged in a massive, world wide espionage campaign. This is no secret, it has been known for over a decade that China has been using everyone, from Chinese diplomats, to Chinese tourists, to grab any bit of useful information they come across, and get it back to China. But the three defecting diplomats have revealed, to the public, many more details of this massive operation. These included things that were long suspected, like government owned shipping and trading companies being used to support espionage, and carry material back to China. There are about 150,000 Chinese students in the United States, and about a million visitors a year, and many are coerced to engage in espionage, or volunteer to do so. In addition, the Chinese government, and intelligence agencies, consider anyone of Chinese ancestry, even if they are American citizens who were born in the U.S., to be Overseas Chinese and to owe their primary allegiance to China. Most of these people rebuff Chinese efforts to recruit them into espionage efforts. But a few go along, and this is causing problems.
The defectors were mostly unhappy at the way the leaders of the Chinese communist dictatorship was manipulating public opinion with threats of war over Taiwan, tolerance for corruption and generally behaving like a police state. China is believed to be pressuring Australia, via threats of economic retaliation, to send the defecting diplomats back to China.