Dan O'Heirity

Today I am drawing on a report “Four Corners” about CCP interference in Australian affairs and Australian politics. The report covers a number of cases which I will summarize and comment on in order to provide additional information and evidence pertaining to the claims made in the “Four Corners” Story. I would recommend watching the whole report as it brings together in a very concrete and very evidenced way points that I have been making for weeks now about the interference of the Chinese Government in Australian affairs.

If, having watched the video, you are not deeply concerned about China’s interference in Australia – and by extension the lengths that Beijing will go to in order to silence individuals who speak out against China – then, quite frankly, there is either something seriously wrong with you or you are a brainwashed Chinese Communist Party lover. There is also something wrong with you if you think that this kind of Chinese interference in government is restricted to Australia.

So to the main points:

  • The first major story concerns an Independent Chinese newspaper in Sydney called the “Vision China Times” which is managed by Maree Ma. First, note carefully that Maree Ma states that the Chinese Government is trying to control the news that Australian Chinese access so that the only available narrative is the Chinese Government narrative. This fact becomes very important later in the report.
  • Further on, the story reports that “Vision China Times” advertisers in China have been visited by Ministers from State Security who told them to stop advertising with the paper. Next the Chinese Consulate sent an email to the Georges River Council telling the Council to ban the paper from sponsoring a Chinese New Year Festival. The consulate succeeded the first time around.
  • The following year Maree Ma spoke at a council meeting suggesting that a foreign government had interfered with Council matters. In a classic moment, a fat and pompous councillor states that the assertions are based on no facts at all. Seconds later, the council is advised of an email from the Chinese Consul General requesting that the Council not accept the “Vision China Times” sponsorship. Classic.
  • The Chinese Consul did not give up after this information was revealed at the Council Meeting. Rather employees of the Consul – someone called Tony Wong in particular – continued to email members of the Council about the anti-Chinese political group, the “Vision China Times”. Really, the anti-Chinese political group. And if you want to leave a trail of evidence then email is the best way to go.
  • I mentioned a little earlier that Maree Ma claimed that the Chinese seek to control the Chinese news in Australia and here is the confirmation for that claim. According to “Four Corners” Melbourne millionaire Tommy Jiang pretty much ensures that Australian Chinese hear only what Beijing wants them to hear because as a media Moghul he owns multiple Chinese media outlets across Australia and the world.
  • Note here that there is reference to an organization that I have mentioned on many occasions, the United Front Work Department (UFWD). Jiang is a delegate to the “China Peoples Political Consultative Conference” (CPPCC), a platform of the UFWD. Here is an American Government Report on the UFWD. Fair to say that being a delegate at the CPPCC means pretty strong ties to China.
  • The point here is that Jiang is doing what the CCP wants him to do in ensuring that his media outlets only report news that Beijing wants Chinese Australians to here. At the same time Beijing is trying to silence independent Chinese news outlets in Australia – such as the “Vision China Times” – by intimidating these outlets and threatening advertisers so that they no long advertise with these independent media outlets.
  • The story about Tommy Jiang continues by showing his relationships with prominent Australian politicians. For example, Jiang reportedly hosted a Chinese business awards night with Kevin Rudd, then Prime Minister of Australia as a special guest. Guests donated $260,000 to the Australian Labour Party. Jiang has made donations to both the Labour and Liberal Parties and MP Andrew Hastie, Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, makes it clear that politicians should be careful in this respect.
  • The report continues by exploring Jiang’s relationship with Jack Lam a casino tycoon, a fugitive from Philippines where he had been charged with bribery. Sadly for Australia, Tony Abbot – Australian Prime Minister from September 2013 – September 2015 was reportedly twice a guest in 2018 at the Twin Rivers Golf and Country Club development which Tommy Jiang was overseeing along with Jack Lam.
  • I have to quote in full something that Tony Abbot said during one of his visits to the Twin Rivers Golf and Country Club, “I’ve got to say I am no friend of communism … but, you have got to hand it to the Chinese people, and the Chinese Government, they have engineered the greatest advancement in human wellbeing of all times.” Seriously, the greatest advancement in human well being. Clearly Abbot knows nothing about the detention of the Uighurs.
  • Next the story moves on to the Chinese billionaire property developer Huang Xiangmo, another person with close associations with the UFWD who was in late 2018 refused citizenship in Australia and stripped of his permanent residency but not before his companies donated millions of dollars to charities and political parties in Australia – read UFWD activities to secure political influence in Australia.
  • The Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) had warned labour and liberals in 2015 that Huang Xiangmo posed a risk of engaging in foreign interference on behalf of Beijing. As far as I can tell the political parties do not seem to have paid too much attention to ASIO. For example, there is a photograph Huang Xiangmo in 2016 with then Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.
  • The story continues with the relationship between Labour Senator Sam Dastyari and Huang Xiangmo. Xiangmo paid Dastyari’s personal legal bills and Dastyari gave a speech at a news conference supporting China’s position on the South China Sea region in addition to allegedly making numerous enquiries to “facilitate” Xiangmo’s application for citizenship. Dastyari resigned as Senator and did not return to parliament in 2018.
  • The report next moves on to the story of Anne Marie Brady, a Professor at the University of Canterbury who has conducted “ground breaking research into CCP political interference activities demonstrates the important role of the academic as “critic and conscience” in a modern democracy“. In 2017 Professor Brady delivered a policy paper, “”Magic Weapons: CCP Political Influence Activities Under Xi Jinping” which can be downloaded from this site.
  • The Four Corners Report gives a brief overview of the policy paper whilst also reporting that Professor Brady’s home and office were burgled the day before she was due to give evidence before the Australian Parliament. Oddly the burglars took for example a broken laptop and a phone that Professor Brady had taken to China. Cash and other values with a high resell value were left on the premises. China’s Spy Service, the Ministry of State Security has a very long reach.
  • Andrew Hastie speaks to the Australian Government taking Brady’s claims with respect to the burglary very seriously and after an investigation, China’s Spy Service, the Ministry of State Security was basically the prime suspect in the burglary. This seems plausible particularly given the fact that Chinese Intelligence Agents interrogated Professor Brady’s Academic collaborators in China just after she was called to testify before the Australian Government about her report.
  • “Four Corners” reports that Professor Brady was due to present to the Australian Government but does not provide any further details which means that it took me an awful lot of searching before I could figure out when Professor Brady testified to the Australian Government along with the content of Professor Brady’s report to the Australian Government. I eventually found all the relevant details on Professor Brady’s Twitter account which also tweeted details of the burglaries at her home and office.
  • I can now report, with a deep feeling of satisfaction, that Professor Brady testified to Australia’s Parliamentary Joint Committee on Security and Intelligence on the 15th February 2018 with the Committee meeting report available on the Australian Government website as well as from this site. The Committee was discussing the “National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference), Bill 2017, Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill 2017. Andrew Hastie, amongst others was in attendance.
  • Here is an excerpt by Professor Brady from the Parliamentary record, “China aspires to be a global great power and is seeking change in a global order. Under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party General Secretary, Xi Jinping, China is now claiming a leadership role in global affairs and pursuing an assertive foreign policy. Xi Jinping’s assertive foreign policy includes the expansion of CCP political influence activity known in China as United Front Work. The CCP’s United Front activity incorporates the co-optation of elites, information management, persuasion and accessing strategic information and resources“.
  • I have also found Professor Brady’s submission to the New Zealand Government “Inquiry into the 2017 General Election and the 2016 Local Elections” which focussed on “the foreign interference activities of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC, China)“. I won’t go into detail here suffice to say that this is confirmation that China is not just targeting Australia but also New Zealand.
  • The “Four Corners” report finishes with a story on John Garnaut, a former senior China adviser to now ex-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who was directed in 2016 by Turnbull to partner with ASIO on a top secret report on the Chinese Government’s interference campaign in Australia. This story is not so much about Garnaut but about a Sydney Professor, Feng Chongyi, who has been an outspoken critic of China. The result. He was “detained” on a visit to China in March 2017.
  • Professor Chongyi was released after a week of “detention but not before “intervention” by the Australian Government which was limited because Professor Chongyi left Australia as an Australian resident rather than as an Australian citizen and because he travelled on his Chinese passport. Given Professor Chongyi’s outspokenness on China issues, it seems fair to say that he is lucky to be back in Australia.
  • The final story is about another colleague / friend of John Garnaut’s, Yang Hengjun who was detained, along with his wife and child when he landed in China in January 2019. In August of 2019 he was accused of espionage which is punishable by death in China. In March 2020 it was reported that the Chinese Government had formally moved to charge Yang Hengjun. Hengjun had been detained for over 420 days at this time in inhuman conditions.
  • Chinese courts convict more than 99% of defendants and so Yang Hengjun is in some very serious trouble and given the complete deterioration of Australia-China relations as a result of the CCP engaging in an act of biological warfare by knowingly releasing their virus upon the world, it will likely sadly be the case that Yang Hengjun will likely be forgotten as global issues take precedence.

First Published May 16th, 2020

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