There’s a big to-do about an investigative thing by Australia’s Four Corners/Fairfax Media concerning Chinese influence in Australia.
ASIO is the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, which curated the dossiers that Four Corners/Fairfax assiduously summarized and spun.
I think the series is highly significant, perhaps not in the way the journos hoped and intended, and the June 21 episode of China Watch will pick apart the details.
That’s a teaser, folks. China Watch is behind the paywall, so you gotta open your wallets. I’m proud of what I’m doing there, it’s unavailable elsewhere, and its worth more than what you’re paying to watch Orange is the New Black on Netflix.
So pony up.
A couple notes that didn’t make it into the broadcast.
I found this nugget rather interesting:
Special Minister of State Scott Ryan has defended former trade minister Andrew Robb, who took an $880,000 part-time job as a consultant to a Chinese billionaire days after the 2016 federal election.
Robb was handled rather gently, even though the billionaire in question was the guy who took the 99-year lease on Darwin port, the one that gave conniptions to the US natsec community.
The second thing that struck me was the emphasis on “the Chinese Communist Party” instead of “the People’s Republic of China” as the evil agency behind the Chinese billionaires.
The CCP doesn’t do overseas espionage, as far as I can tell. So that would seem to hinder the attempt to inflate the Chinese espionage menace. And the other big deal was Chinese billionaires Huang Xiangmo & Chau Chak Wing were big bucks contributors to Australian political parties which is legal even for foreigners down there and Chau’s even an Australian citizen.
I got no problem with allegations that China is buyin’ and spyin’ and oppressin’ and surveillin’ inside Australia. But the report was more along the lines of choreographed threat inflation.
The bulk of the report was, to be unkind, third-rate national security journo-ing.
On China Watch, I was going to cite the instances of crude, dog-whistling assertions trotted out instead of hard facts but the list got too darn long. So I’m doing it here.
At the end of this post, I document the atrocities from just one of the articles, which obligingly passes along a report from the ASIO about a break-in it conducted on Sheri Yan’s apartment in 2015.
Sheri Yan probably deserves a post for herself. She ran what looked like a Clinton Foundation clone, the Global Sustainability Foundation, that got funds from Chinese moneybags and delivered access to and if possible allegedly favors from UN bureaucrats. According to the U.S. government, in the person of NeverTrump celebrity Preet Bahara, Yan passed on some of that money as bribes to UN officials, including John Ashe, who became president of the UN General Assembly.
One billionaire she allegedly did errands for was Chau Chak Wing. If that was the case, Yan took the fall–she’s doing 20 months in federal prison–instead of rolling over on him. Another was Ng Lap Seng, who was named and nailed in the indictment.
This Ng Lap Seng.
Ng’s first brush with bribery in the US (but no conviction!) was in the 1990s. He won fame in the United States in 1997 for funneling a few hundred thousand dollars to Bill Clinton through Little Rock restauranteur Charlie Trie, visiting the White House a few times, and helping lose Al Gore the White House with the “Chinagate” scandal.
An interesting data point is the allegation that the Clinton-related influence buying in the US was reputedly ordered by Jiang Zemin when Jiang was running the show and felt China needed a little more post-Tiananmen international political oomph.
According to the indefatigably anti-Jiang Zemin Epoch Times, Chau Chak Wing is also a member of Jiang’s Shanghai clique. In my China Watch video I speculate that Australia has become a haven for Shanghai clique members seeking to escape the attentions of Xi Jinping and Wang Qishan, and their credentials as trusted PRC state actors are open to question.
Anyway, ASIO, the FBI, and whoever obviously has a hardon for these people, maybe along the lines of, Hey, they bribed Clintons so we’ll get ‘em for this! and believe they deserve to be nailed no matter what. Four Corners/Fairfax obliged by cranking up the innuendo machine.
Here I am documenting the dishonest dossier hustling in the Sheri Yan piece, with my disapproving sniffing in boldface:
“The raid…reflects deep concern inside ASIO”
“it is the Chinese Communist party causing the greatest concern…”
“ASIO suspected…that Ms Yan’s activities extended well beyond bribery. Classifed material shared between FBI counter-espionage officials and ASIO…suggested Ms Yan may have been working with Chinese intelligence.”
“It is understood the investigation into Ms Yan involves suspicions she infiltrated or sought clandestine influence in Australia and the US on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Professor Rory Medcalf…says the ASIO raid would not have occurred without…input from many parts of the Australian national security community”…”the targeting reflects a small part of a ‘deep and real concern’…Eight serving government officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, broadly confirmed Mr. Medcalf’s assessment…also confirmed …the agency had been collating intelligence suggesting…ASIO feared the campaign was succeeding…
[ASIO] prepared an extraordinary document…at the top was a diagram representing the Chinese Communist Party with lines connected this diagram to photos of two Chinese born billionaires [Huang and Chau].
Donors could be channels to advance Beijing’s interests: AISO.
“[Lewis] said ‘be careful’…he was saying the connections between these guys and the Communist Party is strong”…
In the oh, for f*ck’s sake column, here’s the takeaway the head of ASIO offered the political parties while wielding his “extraordinary” picture-and-line filled document:
In his briefing, Mr. Lewis was careful to stress that neither Dr. Chau nor Huang Xianmo was accused of any crime and that Mr. Lewis wasn’t instructing the parties to stop taking their donations.”
Back to the smear stuff:
“We have to assume that individuals like that have really deep, serious connections to the Chinese Communist Party”.
“Mr. Medcalf said ASIO’s decision to come out of the shadows and identify Dr Chua in its briefings is “certainly unusual”…”it would reflect very real concern”
If Dr Chau has taken a position on any policy issue in Australia he’s not done so publicly…But for parts of the Chinese Communist Party, access to the right networks may be worthwhile in and of itself.