Sydney Morning Herald

Political donor Huang Xiangmo says Australia is a 'giant baby'

Sydney Morning Herald logo Sydney Morning Herald 12/02/2019 20:51:00 Kirsty Needham
a man wearing a suit and tie: Huang Xiangmo. © Ryan StuartHuang Xiangmo.

Controversial political donor Huang Xiangmo, who had his Australian permanent residency visa stripped from him, has described Australia as a "giant baby" with "simple folk customs" but beautiful scenery.

Mr Huang has been accused in Australia of being a lobbyist for Beijing, but in an interview with the nationalist Chinese tabloid Global Times, he describes himself as a Hong Kong businessman.

He said the visa cancellation was "quite unexpected" and had "a huge impact on me and my family" because he is unable to see his granddaughter who is an Australian citizen.

But Mr Huang says he is "very pleased" the major political parties have chosen not to return his political donations, as he requested last week, because it shows "they have enough confidence in the legitimacy of these donations".

He said documents from ASIO "clearly stated that I did not violate any laws in Australia".

A column he wrote in 2016 for the Global Times about political donations helped propel Mr Huang into the spotlight in Australia amid concern about foreign influence campaigns.

Global Times published on Tuesday a lengthy interview with Mr Huang, with the newspaper asking him whether his visa cancellation was "a watershed incident in Australia's perception of Chinese influence?"

But at an official level, Beijing appears to have shrugged off Australia's move in December to cancel Huang's permanent resident visa. When asked at a press briefing on Monday, China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: "I have no relevant information, but one thing is clear, which is that the Chinese side never interferes in others' internal affairs".

She added, "We hope the Australian side could handle the relevant issues involving this Chinese citizen in a fair, just and non-discriminatory way."

In the Global Times interview Mr Huang blames ASIO for the visa cancellation and alleges that information about him was illegally leaked to the media.

"The same risk will certainly fall on every Chinese, or anyone with other ethnic origins," he said.

He said overseas Chinese are a diverse group who hold diverse political ideas and he understood that "there are different perceptions over the incident and on me". But Mr Huang said he believed his "words and acts" had been in strict accordance to Australian law.

Lee Kuan Yew wearing a suit and tie: Mr Huang with Bill Shorten. © James BrickwoodMr Huang with Bill Shorten.

"My closeness with China is in accordance with law, reasonable and rational, and has no difference with other ethnic groups' closeness to their home country".

Mr Huang's citizenship application was rejected "on character grounds" and because ASIO was concerned he had previously been the chairman of the Australia Council for the Promotion of the Peaceful Reunification of China.

"Some Chinese might think the ASIO's anti-Communist needs are behind my case and it seems like as long as you are not involved or close to any 'redness' you will be safe. However, how does supporting reunification relate to the colour of one's political view?" he said.

He said Australia has diplomatic relations with communist China and adhered to the "One China" principle. Australia does not recognise Taiwan as a sovereign state.

Mr Huang claimed "there seems to be some strange power operating in a dark place outside the law".

"The two year investigation of me also proved my innocence: they dug deep but found my words and deeds do not violate any Australian laws. What I did not expect is that a system that boasts democracy and rule of law would allow some people from its intelligence agency to punish a permanent resident with groundless accusations."

He said the legal process was still progressing. The Australian Chinese Daily has reported Mr Huang has appealed the decision in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

In the Global Times interview, Mr Huang said he was living in his Hong Kong house when his Australian lawyer received a notice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade saying his permanent residency was cancelled.

He travelled frequently between the two places, and Thailand, for business. He recently told Thai media that his father was born in Thailand.

He said he had made political donations, after being asked by Australian political parties, because "I hope to promote Chinese people's legal involvement in politics".

Labor Senator Sam Dastyari was forced to resign after comments he made to Chinese Australian media in support of China's stance in the South China Sea were reported in full, and it was revealed he had tipped off Mr Huang that his phone was bugged by Australian authorities.

12. helmikuuta 2019 22:51:00 Categories: RTBF Sydney Morning Herald info - economie

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