Australia and China: Meddle kingdom
New revelations about Chinese political donations set hands wringing.
When Malcolm Turnbull, Australia's prime minister, urged China earlier this month to respect “the sovereignty of others”, many took it as criticism of China's expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea.
But the comment might just as easily have been a reference to Australia's political parties.
All of them face questions about donations from businessmen linked to China's government.
A parliamentary inquiry in March called for a ban on political donations from foreign sources.
Mr.Turnbull has endorsed the idea, as has Labor, the main opposition.
Yet on June 5th, three days after Mr.Turnbull's speech, a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reinflamed the controversy.
Two years ago both Labor and the Liberal-National alliance, which Mr. Turnbull heads, are said to have ignored a warning from the domestic spy agency against accepting donations from two Chinese property developers: Chau Chak Wing and Huang Xiangmo.
Mr. Chau is an Australian citizen and Mr. Huang has applied for citizenship.
Both have links to China's Communist Party, although both say they do not represent the Chinese government.
Last year Sam Dastyari, a Labor senator, quit a party post, but not parliament, after the disclosure that he had accepted money from Yuhu Group, which Mr. Huang heads, to pay for travel and legal advice.
Mr. Dastyari had called on Australia to “respect” China's claims in the South China Sea.
The ABC claims that Mr. Huang had promised Labor a donation of A$400,000 ($303,000) before the federal election last year, but withdrew the offer after the party's defence spokesman publicly criticised China's actions in the South China Sea.