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


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

Sen. Kitching’s accusation at a Senate Estimates hearing relates to foreign interference by which the “puppet master” hired an employee to begin identifying and funding potential candidates to run for federal office.


The head of Australia’s ASIO counter-intelligence agency, Mike Burgess, told the same hearing that ASIO had intervened to foil the plot and that no current Labor candidates concerned his agency. He said it was essential that Australia did not allow fear of foreign interference to undermine stakeholder engagement or stoke community division, as this would have “the same corrosive impact on our democracy as interference foreigner itself”.

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

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

But there is now a wide divide between what Australian politicians are willing to say about Mr Chau inside 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 University of Sydney institution has grown “thanks to the generosity of the man whose bears the name,” along with three other philanthropists.

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

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

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

Defense Minister Peter Dutton appeared to underscore this in Parliament on Tuesday, when he said “we’re not hanging out in a museum with Bob Carr…and other obscure characters”.

When asked why he attended the event, a spokesperson for Mr Albanese said: ‘As an alumnus, Mr Albanese regularly attends events at the University of Sydney.’

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

“He came from a poor family and had no higher education. Growing up, he saw the value of a good education in an institution of higher learning through the success in life of a person who had lived in his village and then obtained such an education,” the judgment reads. of the court.

“Mr. Chau’s childhood ambition, which he 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 had learned from US authorities that Mr Chau was the unindicted co-conspirator identified in an indictment by a New York court as “CC- 3”.

CC-3 was charged in the indictment with financing a US$200,000 ($263,000) bribe that was funneled to the former president of the United Nations General Assembly , John Ashe, in 2013.

Chinese-Australian businesswoman Sheri Yan was jailed in the United States 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 to someone who has figured prominently in Australian politics,” Mr Hastie said in his 2018 speech to Parliament.

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

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

Mr. Hastie said CC-3 had “also been a very important donor to our two main political parties.”

“He has donated over $4 million since 2004. He has also donated $45 million to Australian universities. 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 attempted to report those same allegations years earlier – without the benefit of parliamentary privilege – they faced libel claims from Mr Chau, reprimands from several judges and serious financial losses.

The specter of Chinese government interference is 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 conspiracy to target then-incumbent Immigration Minister Alan Tudge.

Ahead of this year’s election, the Coalition is likely to step up its attacks on Labor over its position on China, despite opposition that does not differ from the federal government on substantive policies.

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

With China set to remain the greatest foreign policy challenge of the generation to come, divisions like this are exactly what Beijing wants.

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