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Australian Intelligence Agency Considers Chinese Businessman a Risk to National Security

A Melbourne Chinese businessman who supports well-known members of the Liberal Party is facing deportation. He was previously assessed by the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) as a risk to national security. The Counter Foreign Interference Taskforce under ASIO is conducting an investigation. Earlier, because of security concerns, the federal government rejected his application for permanent residency.

The businessman is Liu Huifeng, a political donor of the Liberal Party and former soldier of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. He established a personal relationship with the Federal Liberal Party MP Gladys Liu and Assistant Minister to the Treasurer Michael Sukkar. Since June 2016, Liu has participated in a series of pre-election fundraising activities and has been a frequent guest at events involving Liu and Sukkar. For example, Liu posted on his social media account on April 27, 2017, “Tonight I was invited to attend the private dinner of Michael Sukkar, Assistant Minister to the Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia … He kept telling others that I was his old friend.”

He co-founded a community aid organization that agreed to accept funding from the Chinese Consulate in Melbourne and share information with them. The association, the Australian Emergency Assistance Association Incorporated (AEAAI), acts as an intermediary in policing incidents and legal cases that involve Chinese speakers. On the Chinese social media WeChat, the association promoted itself as a grassroots community platform to its 55,000 members, mainly ethnic Chinese living in Australia.

Liu Huifeng signed a letter of intent with the Chinese Consulate General in Melbourne in 2017. In the agreement announcement, Mr. Liu promised “close communication” with the Chinese Consulate General in Melbourne. According to a secret document that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) obtained, AEAAI agreed to accept instructions from the consulate, report incidents involving Chinese citizens to the consulate, and provide “information involving security risks.” The letter of appointment signed by AEAAI and the consulate stipulates that, “The association will appoint volunteers in accordance with the authorization and specific requirements from the consulate on a case-by-case basis.” The document stated that volunteers should “assist the Consulate General to go to the scene of the incident to understand the situation of the case, provide assistance to Chinese citizens in need of assistance, and promptly report the situation to the Consulate General.”

Source: ABC, January 4, 2020