A Chinese billionaire and agent of influence funded a five-day trip to Hong Kong for NSW Labor Leader Chris Minns, Labor’s energy spokesman Chris Bowen, and his wife.
They travelled as joint guests of the Chinese Communist Party and the Australian-Guangdong Chamber of Commerce.
Chris Minns has since come under heavy scrutiny for his connection to the Chinese Communist Party when he was a newly elected MP – especially as his maiden speech, given shortly after this trip, promoted unpopular pro-China ideas such as making Mandarin a mandatory subject for all Australian school children from Kindergarten to Year 12. Currently, only English is mandatory.
The now-exiled property developer Huang Xiangmo acted as a front for these organisations. He also served as president of the Australian Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification in China – a One China organisation that wants to see Taiwan and the South China Sea brought under Chinese control.
In 2015 – the same year that Chris Minns travelled to Hong Kong – ASIO issued a stern warning to Australia’s major political parties not to accept any political donations from Huang Xiangmo. Upon returning, Chris Minns tried to declare his trip with a Members Interests declaration, but was advised that the trip fell outside the declaration period and so it was left undeclared.
The then-federal Labor leader Bill Shorten was invited and attended Huang Xiangmo’s daughter’s wedding as the guest of honour. Huang Xiangmo was also implicated in the Chinese donation scandal involving former Labor Senator Sam Dastyari where Dastyari spoke against Labor and instead supported China’s claim to the South China Sea.
Huang Xiangmo also funded Labor’s former Foreign Minister Bob Carr’s ‘Australia-China Relations Institute’ to the tune of $1.8 million in 2013.
The billionaire is still being sought in relation to $141 million in unpaid taxes and interest, an accusation which Huang Xiangmo denies.
Huang Xiangmo donated in excess of $2.7 million to Labor and Liberal before his Australian visa was cancelled in 2019 under suspicion of interfering in Australian political affairs on behalf of China’s Communist Party.
After being banned from entering Australia, he asked for his political donations back and referred to Australia as a ‘giant baby’.
Huang Xiangmo has since been appointed to a position of power and influence on a Hong Kong committee to suppress the last of the city’s democracy movement. The 1,500 members are to select around half of the Hong Kong legislature and the new leader to ensure that they are ‘pro-Beijing’.
In 2019 his wife, Huang Jiefang, spent $95.7 million on one of the most expensive Hong Kong residences.
Chris Minns has done a backflip on his China-talk and now argues against Communist Party influence in Australian politics. He has also apologised for his suggestion to make Mandarin mandatory in schools.
“It was a mistake on my part, one that I regret,” said Chris Minns. “At the time, I was looking at the economic size of China, the growth of their economy, the potential. I realised even a small fraction of trade with China would bring billions into the Australian economy, the NSW economy. But I was wrong.”
“Obviously Australia has changed since then and China has changed since then,” he went on to add.