OTTAWA - Canadian opposition lawmakers pressed the government to crack down on alleged Chinese espionage during the House of Commons question period.

"Reports show that the Chinese spies were and are tapping phones, waging campaigns of threats and harassment," Deputy Conservative Leader Peter Mackay said, repeating accusations made this week by two former Chinese officials who defected to Australia.

"China has a huge interest in owning our natural resources and dominating our economy. Our country is losing billions (of dollars) through economic espionage," he told Parliament.

Earlier, former Chinese diplomat Chen Yonglin and policeman Hao Fengjun claimed their government had some 1,000 agents spying and harassing Canadian members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement [...].

Chen abandoned his post as first secretary at the Chinese consulate-general in Sydney last month while Hao defected in February.

Both men, interviewed this week by the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation, are seeking asylum in Australia, claiming their lives would be in danger if forced to return home.

Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan retorted: "We're fully aware of the allegations that have been made in relation to the presence of some in this country who may be carrying on certain activities that are unacceptable."

"CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) is doing everything that is necessary to ensure the collective security of Canadians," she said.

"The prime minister has discussed issues of sovereignty and other issues when he was in China some months ago," she added, describing Canada's relationship with its second-biggest trading partner after the United States as "complex."