The first jolt for readers of Clive Hamilton’s polemic new book ‘Silent Invasion – China’s Influence in Australia’ is the cover. A photograph of Parliament House in Canberra but the flagstaff flies, not Australia’s blue ensign but the red flag of the Peoples’ Republic of China.
Hamilton, professor of public ethics at Charles Sturt University in Canberra has been tracking the not-so-silent ‘invasion’ of Chinese money and thought in Australia and his conclusions make disturbing reading.
In his book, Hamilton makes an important point: Australians should not confuse ‘Beijing’ the Party and its political infrastructure and aims with ‘China’ particularly Chinese-Australians, many of whom feel torn between loyalty towards the homeland of their ancestors and pride in claiming their association to the new superpower:
Among those most alarmed by the growing sway of the Chinese party-state in [Australia] are those Chinese-Australians who see themselves as Australians… those who feel loyal to the country they have made their home. They watched with dismay. as new waves of Chinese have arrived – billionaires with shady histories and tight links to the party, media owners creating Beijing mouthpieces, ‘patriotic’ students brainwashed from birth (but still seeking residency) and professionals marshalled into pro-Beijing associations set up by the Chinese embassy.
Hamilton goes on to quote the late president of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew who declared:
It is China’s intention to be the greatest power in the world.
Hamilton’s chapter ‘Dark Money’ is enlightening, recalling the political fortunes of the ALP’s Sam Dastyari were linked with mega-billionaire Huang Xiangmo who also massively boosted ALP coffers. Hamilton noted that in 2012 Huang donated $150,000 to the NSW branch of the ALP. Over the next four years, he would donate $1.78 million to the NSW ALP, with employees of Mr Huang’s Yuhu group also making substantial donations. Meijuan (Anna) Wu, listed as Yuhu’s company secretary, a former barista at Max Brenner, donated 50,000 and in March 2014, the ALP in NSW received $60,000 from Su Zhaokai, whose contact was a Gmail address and a flat in the Sydney suburb of Rhodes. Mr Su, Hamilton learned, was a Yuhu employee and ‘the declaration form indicated the money was earmarked for ‘Sam Dastyari’.’ However, Huang Xiangmo’s generosity was not limited to Labor.
Since arriving in Australia in 2012 or 2013 he, or his companies, have donated almost 2.9 million, 1.8 million to Labor, and $1.1 million to the Liberals. And it was not just money.
Former NSW Labor state secretary and Legislative Council member Eric Roozendaal, after quitting parliament in May 2013, took on a lobbying role with Yuhu as Australian Vice-Chairman and in 2016, CEO.
Former Liberal federal director and trade minister Andrew Robb’s electorate fundraising body, the Bayside Forum received $100,000 ‘ including $50,000 on the day the China-Australian Free Trade Agreement was settled.’ Bill Shorten and Andrew Robb were both honoured guests at of Huang’s daughter Carina’s wedding in January 2016.
‘Silent Invasion’ is a scary read.
Chapters such as ‘How dependent are we ?’; Media deals’ ‘Credulous journos’, ‘China’s Fifth column in Australia’ ‘Spying on ASIO’ ‘Honey traps’ ‘A thousand spies and informants’ ‘Cyber warriors’, ‘Academic malware’ Confucius Institutes’ and ‘Denounce and inform’ make for unsettling thoughts.
And unsettle they should. ‘Silent Invasion’ was turned down by Hamilton’s usual publisher Allen & Unwin and courageously taken up by indie publisher Hardie Grant, despite fears of retaliation and litigation.
Perhaps future events will chase the ominous shadows on our horizon, but history reminds us, as Virgil did, that it is as well to fear those who come bearing gifts. It seldom augurs well for the nation.
Clive Hamilton’s Silent Invasion: China’s Influence in Australia, is published by Hardie Grant.
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