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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Who is Chau Chak Wing? The alleged ‘puppeteer’ behind foreign interference plot

Since then, barely a word has been written about Mr Chau. Until this week.

Senator Kitching’s allegations in a Senate estimates hearing relates to foreign interference whereby the “puppeteer” hired an employee to begin identifying and bankrolling candidates likely to run for Labor in the federal election.


The head of Australia’s counter-espionage agency ASIO, Mike Burgess, told the same hearing that ASIO stepped in to foil the plot and that no current Labor candidates were of any concern to his agency. He said it was critical that Australia did not let the fear of foreign interference undermine stakeholder engagement or stoke community division, as that would have the “same corrosive impact on our democracy as foreign interference itself”.

Mr Chau has long been a well-connected businessman with ties to both major parties. He has donated more than $4 million to Australia’s major political parties since 2004 – although it is believed they have stopped taking money from him. He has also donated more than $45 million to Australian universities, making him one of the biggest donors in Australian history.

Politicians who have previously met Mr Chau include former prime ministers John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard, as well as former foreign affairs ministers Julie Bishop and Bob Carr.

But there is a now wide gap between what Australian politicians are prepared to say about Mr Chau within the Federal Parliament and outside its walls.

Speaking at the opening of the Chau Chak Wing Museum on November 16, 2020, Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the institution at the University of Sydney had risen “thanks to the generosity of the man whose name that it bears”, as well as three other Philanthropists.

Labor Leader Anthony Albanese Spoke At The Chau Chak Wing Museum Dinner In November, 2020.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese spoke at the Chau Chak Wing Museum dinner in November, 2020.Credit:Youtube

“Four great philanthropists. We should not take that for granted – their generosity,” Mr Albanese said at the event, in which Mr Carr and former Liberal leader Brendan Nelson also attended, but not Mr Chau.

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age has seen an invitation to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to attend the same event, which was declined by his office.

Defense Minister Peter Dutton appeared to be pointing this out in Parliament on Tuesday, when he said “we don’t hang out in a museum with Bob Carr … and other murky figures”.

Asked why he attended the event, a spokesperson for Mr Albanese said: “As an alumnus, Mr Albanese regularly attends events at Sydney University.”

According to last year’s defamation court judgment, Mr Chau was born in Guangdong province in China in 1949 and became an Australian citizen in about 1999.

“He came from a poor family and had no tertiary education. As he was growing up, he saw the value of a good education at a tertiary institution through the success in life of a person who had lived in his village and later obtained such an education,” the court judgment reads.

“Mr Chau’s childhood ambition, which he has pursued with the benefit of his own business success, was to support education and educational institutions.”

Liberal MP Andrew Hastie told Parliament in 2018 that he learned from US authorities that Mr Chau was the unindicted co-conspirator identified in a New York court indictment as “CC-3”.


CC-3 was alleged in the indictment to have funded a $US200,000 ($263,000) bribe which was funneled to the former president of the UN General Assembly, John Ashe, in 2013.

Chinese-Australian businesswoman Sheri Yan was jailed in the US in 2016 after pleading guilty to bribing Mr Ashe, but CC-3 was never charged.

“It’s time we applied sunlight to our political system and a person who has featured prominently in Australian politics,” Mr Hastie said in his 2018 speech to Parliament.

“For reasons that are best undisclosed, the United States government did not seek to charge CC-3 for his involvement in the bribery of John Ashe. We know that CC-3 was willing to participate in the bribery of the 68th United Nations President of the General Assembly in 2013.

“We also know that … CC-3 was in close contact with the United Front, the influence arm of the Chinese Communist Party in 2007.

Mr Hastie said that CC-3 had “also been a very significant donor to both of our major political parties”.

“He has given more than $4 million since 2004. He has also donated $45 million to universities in Australia. It is now my duty to inform the House — and the Australian people – that CC-3 is Mr Chau Chak Wing.”

When Nine and the ABC had tried to report these same years earlier – without the benefit of parliamentary privilege – they were met with defamation claims from Mr Chau, the rebuke of multiple judges, and severe financial losses.

The spectre of Chinese government interference has been an issue that has plagued both major parties in recent years. In November 2020, Liberal Party member Sunny Duong became the first person charged under Australia’s landmark foreign interference laws for an alleged plot to target then-acting immigration minister Alan Tudge.

Leading into this year’s election, the Coalition is likely to increase its attacks on Labor over its stance on China, despite the opposition not differing from the federal government when it comes to substantive policies.

Mr Morrison and Mr Dutton have both accused Labor of appeasement in recent days when it comes to China. Former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd on Tuesday called a press conference to hit back, saying that the Liberal Party’s record over more than a decade showed that it was guilty of “rancid hypocrisy, and a rancid lie”.

With China to remain the biggest foreign policy challenge of the coming generation, divisions like these are exactly what Beijing wants.

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World Nation News Desk
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