Australian City Moves to Sever Ties With China Sister City

April 15, 2020 Updated: April 16, 2020

New South Wales’ (NSW) largest inland city, Wagga Wagga, has voted to cut its relationship with its Chinese sister city, Kunming in Yunnan province, over concerns that the Chinese regime covered up and lied about the severity of the CCP virus.

Spearheaded by councilor Paul Funnell, the motion was passed on April 14.

In addition to severing the ties Wagga Wagga had with Kunming—which were in place since 1988—Funnell also called to sever relationships with two other friendship cities, Tieling in Liaoning province, and Rugao in Jiangsu province, which started in 2012 and 2014 respectively.

“Given that these current arrangements are actually with the governing and ruling authorities of the said provinces and educational facilities, we are therefore in relations with the totalitarian communist regime of the People’s Republic of China,” Funnell said in his report (pdf) to Wagga Wagga Council.

“This is the same Chinese communist government that delights in lies, subterfuge, and coverups; for example, by now trying to claim that the U.S. military is responsible for the spread of COVID-19,” said Funnel in the report.

Funnell added that the Chinese regime’s actions and inaction post the outbreak has “brought death and destruction across the world … and Wagga Wagga LGA (Local Government Area) has not been spared.”

According to NSW Health, the Murrumbidgee Local Health District in southern NSW—which includes Wagga Wagga and surrounding areas—has 44 reported cases of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus. There has been one reported death as of April 15.

Mayor Greg Conkey issued a statement the next day saying that he immediately put forward a rescission motion to be considered at the next council meeting, which is scheduled for April 22.

“It’s hypocrisy,” Conkey told SBS News. “The three councilors who voted in favour of it either directly or indirectly benefit from our very close trading ties with China.”

“It’s all very well for them to say they’re opposed to the central government, but that has nothing to do with our sister city and the strong friendship and ties we have with them.

“We are a very proud multicultural city, we have 112 nationalities represented, and we speak 107 languages, so I’m really just devastated by this,” Conkey added.

Request From Sister City

According to Funnell, the city of Wagga Wagga received a letter from Kunming’s municipal government on Jan. 29 requesting face masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as China was “under a severe situation of preventing and controlling pneumonia.”

Funnell told 3AW radio host Tom Elliott that one week later, the city received another letter from Kunming that praised the Chinese regime’s victory over the CCP virus.

According to Funnell, the letter stated: “After confirming China’s victory over the epidemic, I will invite you to lead a delegation to show you a healthy, prosperous, and vibrant Kunming.”

“I’ve never supported the communist regime, and never will. And I don’t want to be in a relationship with the communist regime,” Funnell said.

Funnell added that he has been accused of racism but has made it clear that it’s not about race but rather the communist ideology.

“The beauty of our democratic process is that we can and should put forward what we believe are not only in the best interests of our constituents, but also an opportunity to stand up for our principles, and that of the people that chose us to represent them,” Funnell said in his report.

“If we don’t sever ties with the aforementioned anti-democratic organisations, we are giving tacit approval to the [Chinese] regime that what they are doing is alright, just by our ongoing relationship,” he said.

Six out of nine councilors were present to vote at the meeting. Of the three who were not there, one was ill and two declared a conflict of interest. Mayor Conkey was also not present due to an illness.