In November 2020, the Australian police charged former Liberal Party member Di Sanh “Sunny” Duong, also known as Yang Yisheng, with violating the “Foreign Interference Laws”: Duong was accused of preparing or planning foreign interference activities. On Tuesday, December 19, 2023, an Australian court ruled that the charges were substantiated. This marks the first such verdict under foreign interference laws enacted in 2018. Duong may face up to 10 years in prison.
According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), prosecutors informed the court that Duong had maintained regular contact with Chinese intelligence agencies and attempted to influence then Federal Minister Alan Tudge to further the goals of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Born in Vietnam, Sunny Duong, 68 years old, is a well-known businessman in the Australian Chinese community. He serves as the chairman of the Oceania Cambodia Vietnam Chinese Association and holds various leadership positions in Chinese community organizations in the Australian state of Victoria. He is believed to be associated with the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification, which is controlled by the CCP’s United Front Work Department.
ABC’s report stated that prosecutor Patrick Doyle SC told the jury that Duong’s actions couldn’t be compared to the espionage seen in spy novels or 007 movies. He said that Duong’s actions were rather a “subtle form of interference,” emphasizing that the motivation was to gain influence [for the CCP].
A secret recording showed that Sunny Duong told a colleague, “What I do won’t be reported in the media, but Beijing knows what I’m doing.”
Source: Voice of America, December 19, 2023