Daily Bulletin

News

  • Written by Clive Hamilton, Professor of Public Ethics, Centre for Public and Contextual Theology, Charles Sturt University
Why Gladys Liu must answer to parliament about alleged links to the Chinese government

Around 2005, the Chinese government began pushing its policy of huaren canzheng, or “ethnic Chinese participation in politics overseas”. It was a new tactic in the Chinese Communist Party’s “united front” strategy to gain political influence abroad by helping trusted members of the Chinese diaspora gain political influence.

Since then, ethnic Chinese people supported by Beijing have begun joining political parties and running for office in Canada, New Zealand, Britain and Australia. The strategy is most advanced in Canada, but it’s been building in Australia, too.

The baleful consequence of this new situation is that Chinese communities, already seriously under-represented in parliaments, now find themselves represented by people whose loyalties are in doubt. The CCP has poisoned the well.

Read more: Politics with Michelle Grattan: Clive Hamilton and Richard Rigby on Chinese influence in Australia

Liu’s links with various organisations

It’s with these developments in mind that questions have been raised about the alleged links of the newly elected Liberal member for Chisholm, Gladys Liu, to organisations associated with the Chinese Communist Party.

Investigations by the ABC and Nine newspapers have revealed that Liu has been closely connected with a number of organisations in Australia and China that are directed by or closely linked to the CCP’s powerful United Front Work Department.

One of the department’s tasks is to co-opt and guide ethnic Chinese people living abroad so they act in the interests of the Communist Party. Its size and importance have increased sharply under President Xi Jinping, who has described United Front as one of the party’s “magic weapons”.

Read more: Inside China's vast influence network – how it works, and the extent of its reach in Australia

One prominent United Front organisation is the Guangdong provincial branch of the China Overseas Exchange Association, an overseas propaganda and influence outfit headed by high-ranking party officials. Documents show that Liu has been a council member of this organisation.

She has also confirmed she has been an honorary president of the United Chinese Commerce Association of Australia.

There is strong evidence that this body is part of the CCP’s United Front network for exerting political influence in Australia. For example, the current president, Huang Zhuang, has close links with party organisations in China. And its permanent honorary president, Lo Man-tuen, is a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a top-level patriotic advisory body.

In September 2018, Liu was also appointed honorary president of the Australia Jiangmen General Commercial Association, an investment promotion body whose senior officers, including its president Wilson Cui, hold positions in CCP United Front organisations.

The Jiangmen association was one of the organisations that backed a protest on the streets of Melbourne in 2016 against a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, rejecting China’s claims to much of the South China Sea.

Liu said she “cannot recall” being a member of the China Overseas Exchange Association. And she has previously said she is unaware of any Communist Party links with the other organisations that she participates in and that she has only joined them to promote trade and community activities.

Questionable donors

Liu has been an energetic supporter of the Liberal cause. She has run for office in Victoria a number of times and was once employed as an adviser to Liberal leader Ted Baillieu.

But she is perhaps most admired in the Liberal Party for her fundraising ability. Her claim to be “one of the most effective fundraisers in the Victorian division” of the party is almost certainly true.

Read more: The world has a hard time trusting China. But does it really care?

However, her fundraising came under a cloud last month when it was reported by the Herald Sun that the Liberal Party had been forced to return A$300,000 to dodgy donors that she had brought to an event in 2015. (Liu has denied that any funds were returned to donors).

Then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull refused to have dinner with the donors because he had been warned off by our intelligence services due to “security concerns”. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and opposition leader Matthew Guy did likewise.

Why Liu must answer to parliament

Even though Liu has denied having links with the Chinese Communist Party, there are now serious questions swirling around her and legitimate doubts about whether she owes “allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power”.

Those words are taken from section 44 of the Constitution. While many federal politicians have been disqualified from parliament because they have turned out to be citizens of another country, the question of allegiance to a foreign power is a far weightier reason for disqualification.

Parliament must now grapple with Liu’s case. If there is enough evidence to indicate she may owe allegiance to a foreign power, then parliament ought to refer her to the High Court, where the claims can be tested.

Otherwise, a dark cloud will hang over her as long as she sits in the House of Representatives. And a dark cloud will overshadow the Liberal Party, because more and more people will want to know why it stuck with Liu when it knew that intelligence agencies had concerns strong enough to deter the prime minister from meeting with her donors.

Authors: Clive Hamilton, Professor of Public Ethics, Centre for Public and Contextual Theology, Charles Sturt University

Read more http://theconversation.com/why-gladys-liu-must-answer-to-parliament-about-alleged-links-to-the-chinese-government-123339


The Conversation

Politics

Prime Minister Visit to the United States of America

I will travel to the United States of America with my wife Jenny, from 19-27 September, visiting Washington D.C, Chicago, Ohio and New York.   It was an honour to accept President Trump’s genero...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Additional Australian Government assistance to help people affected by the Queensland and New South Wales bushfires

The Australian Government will deliver new income assistance to people affected by the bushfires in Queensland and New South Wales.   We have activated the Disaster Recovery Allowance (DRA) to ...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Monash Freeway upgrades moving forward for Melbourne commuters

An extra 36 kilometres of new lanes will be added to the Monash Freeway under a joint Australian and Victorian Government plan to bust congestion in Melbourne’s east.   The Morrison and Andrews ...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

Ways to Take Control Over Your Startup's Public Image

The way in which others see your business only seems like something that you have no control over. After all, it’s their own subjective matter, right? Well, the concept of branding represents a sc...

Diana Smith - avatar Diana Smith

How Digital Futures Platforms are Changing it All

Some people still remember the days when you had to be in one of the world’s centers of finance in order to be able to trade with futures. Technology has developed a lot since then and trading wit...

Diana Smith - avatar Diana Smith

Your Ultimate Guide on Making an Office Cleaning Checklist

A cleaning list is simply a list that guides cleaners on what should be done. Several factors determine the type of cleaning list for your business premises.  The cleaning checklist usually provided ...

Clean Group - avatar Clean Group

Travel

Travelling Tips and your Roots: Who’s Looking out for Home?

If you lead a life of travel, chances are you know that not everyone gets the same kick out of living as a nomad. Today we focus on those ‘left behind’ – how do you nurture the valuable people in yo...

News Company - avatar News Company

TOURISM NT LAUNCHES NEW BRAND

New tagline revealed, new campaign set to launch ‘Different in every sense’ will replace Tourism NT’s ‘Do the NT’ tagline from today as part of a new brand positioning aimed at attracting more vi...

Matthew Ongarello - avatar Matthew Ongarello

Family-Friendly Island Camping Spots in Australia

Australia is a popular location for camping, and it is easy to understand why. The geographic make-up of most areas in the continent is ideal for outdoor adventures, with several beautiful beaches, ...

News Company - avatar News Company

ShowPo