Chinese Political Donor and Billionaire Denied Australian Passport, Stuck In Beijing

By AAP
February 6, 2019 Updated: February 7, 2019

Chinese businessman and political donor Huang Xiangmo—who has been living in Sydney as a permanent resident—has been denied an Australian passport, according to media reports.

Australian officials have reportedly denied Huang, a Chinese businessman and prominent political donor, a passport, leaving him stranded in Beijing.

Huang has been told his application to become an Australian citizen has been turned down and permanent residency cancelled, according to The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) and The Age.

The SMH did not report a reason for the decision but it cited the Ministry for Home Affairs, which oversees visa applications, as saying Huang was “unfit” for residency.

A ministry representative and a spokeswoman for Minister for Immigration David Coleman both declined to comment.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, asked about Huang, who had in recent years emerged as one of Australia’s biggest political donors, said he would not comment on a “sensitive matter”.

“The government has always acted consistent with the advice that we receive and that’s what has happened on this occasion,” he told reporters.

The Chinese Communist Party-aligned businessman, who has donated money to both Labor and the Coalition, has been living in Sydney with his wife and children since 2011.

He made headlines in 2017 when it was revealed his company paid former federal Labor senator Sam Dastyari’s personal legal bills and appeared alongside him at a press conference for Chinese media where he supported Beijing’s stance on the South China Sea, contradicting Labor’s position.

It was also revealed that Huang was visited by opposition leader Bill Shorten in March 2016. Shorten was seeking donations for an advertising campaign at the time. Media reported at the time that the ALP leader requested a “significant amount” from Huang.

Huang is also on the record telling a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) newspaper that “political demands and political donations” should be linked.

Huang is a person of interest to Australian intelligence services because of his connections to the CCP, including how he was the head of a Sydney organization associated with the United Front Work Department—a CCP political lobbying and propaganda agency.

That organisation, the Australian Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China (ACPPRC), has been criticised as a front group for the CCP. According to Hamilton, ACPPRC has ties to the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification—an agency in the third bureau of the CCP’s United Front Work Department that is tasked with carrying out influence operations among overseas ethnic Chinese communities (PDF).

The United Front has been a key apparatus for CCP propaganda warfare since the time of Mao Zedong (PDF) and continues to have staff stationed in Chinese embassies around the world.

Before the former prime minister’s departure, the Turnbull government introduced new laws that ban foreign donations and laws aimed at deterring foreign interference and espionage activities.

The foreign donations ban came into effect on Jan. 1 this year and a register for foreign agents, created under the new Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme (FITS), has been in effect since Dec. 10 last year. So far, no foreign agents have enrolled on the register.

Foreign agents operating in Australia have been given a three month grace period to register with FITS by the federal government.

With reporting by Epoch Times writer James Burke, Melanie Sun, and Reuters.

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