Friday, September 22, 2017

CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY INFLUENCING AUSTRALIA POLITICS Four council candidates linked to China Communist Party lobby


Four council candidates linked to China Communist Party lobby

Huang Xiangmo. Picture: Renee Nowytarger
Huang Xiangmo. Picture: Renee Nowytarger
Four candidates in NSW local government elections this month have strong links to a Chinese Communist Party-backed lobby group and the wealthy businessman behind its operations, fuelling concerns about external influence in Australia’s political process.
The four candidates — Simon Zhou, Paul Han, Jeanette Wang and Nancy Liu — are all close to Chinese national and property developer Huang Xiangmo, and have belonged to one of three lobby groups he runs in Sydney to advance Beijing’s interests. Three of the candidates have won places on Sydney councils, and another who served previously was defeated.
Allegations about China’s “soft power” influence in Australian politics arose last year when Labor senator Sam Dastyari was forced to resign from his frontbench post following reports he had endorsed Beijing’s maritime claims over the South China Sea. It was also revealed that Mr Huang had paid one of his bills.
The issue was highlighted again in June when an ABC-Fairfax Four Corners program focused on the political activities of several Chinese businessmen, including Mr Huang, who has donated large sums to both major political parties but appears closer to Labor.
Following US intelligence briefings, Attorney-General George Brandis has become so concerned about Chinese Communist Party-linked lobbyists that he is considering new legislation to target external influence.
Two of the candidates who won council positions this month, Mr Zhou and Mr Han, were NSW Labor Senate candidates in last year’s federal election. Both were given tryouts, endorsed by Senator Dastyari and NSW ALP general secretary Kaila Murnain, on the state party’s Senate ticket in unwinnable spots. They have now shifted attention to local government, with Mr Han winning a place on Parramatta Council in Sydney’s west for Labor, and Mr Zhou winning a place on Ryde Council as an independent.
Mr Han works full-time as a staffer for Senator Dastyari in his Parramatta office. He has also served as head of “government and public relations” for Mr Haung’s Australia Guangdong Chamber of Commerce, which funded one of Senator Dastyari’s trips to China last year.
Despite running as an independent in Ryde, Mr Zhou is already figuring as a key player because he is expected to have the casting vote on Tuesday that could return Labor’s Jerome Laxale as mayor and give Labor a controlling majority.
Mr Zhou has served as a high-profile vice-president of Mr Huang’s Australian Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China. Until July this year, he was also paid as a part-time Chinese community liaison official for NSW Labor’s head office. Mr Zhou resigned from his paid ALP role in July after it was revealed he was linked to co-ordinating $145,000 in donations to the party from five gold trading companies also involved in a legal dispute over $20 million in unpaid taxes.
The third candidate with links to Mr Huang is Jeanette Wang, a vice-president of his ACPPRC group and former Labor councillor in Ashfield. Nancy Liu, a former deputy mayor of Hurstville in Sydney’s south, is a member of Mr Huang’s ACPPRC. Although a Liberal member, she has won a spot on the new Georges River Council as an independent.

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