Mr Huang Xiangmo, one of the Chinese mentioned in the ABC’s ‘4 Corners’ documentary is a mysterious figure.
In Australia he is using an alias instead of his legal name Huang Changran.
There is no doubt that he is involved in donations and fund raising in Australia but it is a leap of speculation to assume he is doing it on behalf of the Chinese government.
The operation of fund-raising in the Chinese Australian community is significantly different from other Australian fund-raising arrangements.
In the Chinese community, there is always an individual or an organisation arranging the event and even perhaps the actual fund into which donations are deposited.
The schemes operate a bit like political action committees (superpacs) in the United States and the majority of the individual donors do not know that political donations are tax deductible nor do they realise that the normal way to make a political donation is to send it to the party secretariat.
This means that Australian Chinese donations are rarely transparent.
The fundraising events can realise up to $20,000 which will be donated in the name of a single organisation or individual so donations by Chinese Australians are often overstated.
The motivation for these donations is usually to be seen associating with Australian politicians.
This enhances the prestige of the individual in China and helps with business connections.
A photo of a Chinese Australian sharing a dinner table with a senior politician is solid “proof” of high social status which helps with doing business in China.
The third parties who facilitate the fund-raising get the added bonus of a large tax deduction, at the expense of the other donors, and possibly a commission.
While he is a mover and shaker in Australia, Huang Changran hasn’t been back to China for years and there is a suspicion that he’s avoiding returning to China to evade interaction with the authorities.
A close connection of his has been accused of corruption and punished in China.
The anti-corruption approach in China is more like “capture the guy first then ask questions” rather than “notice the guy and call them in for questions.”
So, even though there is no direct indication from the Chinese government that he is in any way involved with corruption, it does not preclude the possibility that the Chinese anti-corruption team is waiting for the opportunity to bring him in for questions if he returns to China.
It is doubtful that Huang is an agent of influence for the Chinese Communist Party and more likely that he is trying to ingratiate himself with them for his own personal reasons.
This would explain his involvement with the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of China.
His anxiety about becoming an Australian citizen may also be explained by a desire to avoid extradition.
Jethro S Lyu
Subscribe to Inside Canberra