Sanction CCP-Linked Billionaires

Huang Xiangmo case in Australia illustrates risks and solution
October 18, 2021 Updated: October 19, 2021

Commentary

Hong Kong’s political reward to billionaire Huang Xiangmo, an alleged agent of Chinese influence previously active in Australia, indicates a need for tougher laws in democracies.

As Hong Kong strikes 97 percent of its voters from its voting registers and devolves into a satrapy of Beijing, it has rewarded Huang a top political post. He is apparently a darling of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), having been vetted by the Chinese regime to sit on Hong Kong’s powerful election committee as the city loses any semblance of fair elections.

Nick McKenzie of the Sydney Morning Herald wrote a scathing article about the development. Huang reportedly supports the principle of “patriots ruling Hong Kong.” Chief Executive Carrie Lam also supports the principle, which in context sounds like code for pro-Beijing interests ruling the Fragrant Harbor.

McKenzie noted that “Mr Huang’s election to the Hong Kong election committee last month is the strongest indication yet of his unwavering commitment to the Chinese Communist Party and its aims of asserting influence and control.”

The Herald also asserted that the election of Huang indicates that Beijing is rewarding “figures who have been labelled agents of influence and expelled by other nations.”

Huang’s links to the CCP are especially raw in Australia, which reportedly cancelled Huang’s passport, application for Australian citizenship, and permanent residency in 2019 for a range of reasons, including character grounds and the reliability of his answers to Australian authorities.

At the time, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that “Mr Huang rose to prominence through his prolific political fundraising and networking, his funding of former foreign minister Bob Carr’s Sydney think tank, the Australia-China Relations Institute, and his role as chairman of the Chinese Communist Party’s top influence group in Australia.”

In a 2019 interview published in the ultra-nationalist CCP-controlled Global Times, Huang said: “There are only two reasons that are comparatively clearly stated [for the Australian denial of Huang’s citizenship application]. First, I was previously the chairman of the Australian Council for the Promotion of the Peaceful Reunification of China (ACPPRC) and I am currently chairman of the Oceanic Alliance of Promotion of the Peaceful Reunification of China (OAPPRC). Second, I have business and family ties in China.”

Epoch Times Photo
Former Australian Labor Party’s Senator and former General Secretary of the Labor Party in NSW Sam Dastyari revealed the way that Huang tried to influence him. (William West/AFP/Getty Images)

Huang reportedly donated $2.7 million to political parties in Australia prior to his visa cancellation, with the New South Wales government examining allegations in 2015 of secret donations. According to the Herald, Huang was subjected to an adverse ASIO assessment in 2018 after allegations of covertly seeking to influence Australian politics by drawing close to ministers of parliament.

In the 2019 interview, Huang implied that he donated in part for racial reasons. He said: “As for my consideration for agreeing to donate, I admit it partly comes from the Chinese habit of treating other people in a nice manner and not accustomed to saying ‘no.’ But more importantly, I hope to promote Chinese people’s legal involvement in politics.”

Huang claimed in the interview that Australia was at an early stage of development. “The history of Australia has determined the innate characteristics of a giant baby,” he said. “This is an objective fact and it does not mean Australia has to feel inferior. The growth of a giant baby takes time, and Australia still has a long way to go. I fully understand this. Australia is a beautiful country. The Chinese are one of the earliest builders of this country and a part of this country that cannot be separated.”

While democracies like Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States (which together make up the new AUKUS alliance) thrive through the cultural and ethnic diversity of their populations, including their Chinese and other Asian populations, that does not extend to billionaires, like Huang, who are too close to the CCP and wield extensive political power through their economic wealth.

AUKUS should take its alliance to the next level by sanctioning billionaires, without respect to race or nationality, who are too close to the CCP, and who use their wealth in a manner that leads to outsized academic, media, think tank, financial, or political influence. This would include billionaires like Mike Bloomberg, Stephen Schwarzman, Larry Fink, and Ronnie Chan, who together support a range of entities in the United States that tend to be soft on the CCP.

The Bloomberg financial information business in China has gotten significant revenues from China, and Bloomberg himself ran for the Democratic nomination in 2020.

Schwarzman, who has been called “Trump’s China whisperer,” apparently advised President Donald Trump to moderate his tariffs against China even as it continued its predatory trade practices.

According to a government document from early 2021, Fink’s BlackRock had $255 billion invested in China, more than any other U.S. institutional investor.

Chan’s family foundation donated $350 million to Harvard in 2014, and according to my source, Chan is well known at Harvard’s public policy school. He is vocally soft on China.

The CCP’s influence, delivered to elites most potently through the influence of money from other elites, is unconstrained by national boundaries or political partisanship. The solution, through sanctions against the CCP’s most powerful influencers, should likewise be unconstrained by party, race, or nationality.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Anders Corr
Anders Corr has a bachelor's/master's in political science from Yale University (2001) and a doctorate in government from Harvard University (2008). He is a principal at Corr Analytics Inc., publisher of the Journal of Political Risk, and has conducted extensive research in North America, Europe, and Asia. His latest books are “The Concentration of Power: Institutionalization, Hierarchy, and Hegemony” (2021) and “Great Powers, Grand Strategies: the New Game in the South China Sea" (2018).