The American ambassador to Australia has voiced U.S. concerns over China’s impact on Australian politics, saying the United States wants the system reformed to remove the influence of Chinese political donations. Ambassador John Berry said in an interview with The Australian newspaper that the United States is “surprised” by the amount of Chinese money and influence in Australian politics and wants Australia to resolve the foreign donation issue. The embassy confirmed in a statement that Berry had been accurately quoted in the interview, published Wednesday. Last week, the opposition Labor Party called for foreign political donations to be banned after Labor Sen. Sam Dastyari stepped down from a senior role for asking a Chinese company to pay a 1,670 Australian dollar ($1,250) travel bill. While Dastyari broke no law, he acknowledged that having the Sydney-based company Top Education Institute pay a personal bill was wrong. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull pointed to a Chinese language news report that quoted Dastyari as saying, “The South China Sea is China’s own affair.”
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