ChinaDecember 29 2023, 5:05 am

Historic Conviction in Australia for Chinese Foreign Influence Plot

On 20 Decem­ber 2023, CNN report­ed the first-ever con­vic­tion under Aus­trali­a’s for­eign influ­ence laws. Di Sanh Duong, a 68-year-old busi­ness­man in Mel­bourne, was found guilty of plan­ning an act of for­eign inter­fer­ence for the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty. The con­vic­tion, car­ry­ing a max­i­mum 10-year prison sen­tence, marks a legal first in Aus­tralia since the intro­duc­tion of these laws in 2018, fol­low­ing con­cerns over Bei­jing’s attempts to influ­ence Aus­tralian pol­i­tics. Duong’s con­vic­tion stems from a 2020 inci­dent where he pre­sent­ed a $25,000 dona­tion to the Roy­al Mel­bourne Hos­pi­tal in the pres­ence of for­mer fed­er­al min­is­ter Alan Tudge. The dona­tion was intend­ed to gain Tudge’s favor, accord­ing to fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors, although Tudge was not accused of wrong­do­ing. Evi­dence includ­ed inter­cept­ed phone calls where Duong dis­cussed the strate­gic val­ue of a rela­tion­ship with Tudge. The pros­e­cu­tion por­trayed Duong as an “ide­al tar­get” for Chi­na’s Unit­ed Front Work Depart­ment, an orga­ni­za­tion accused of glob­al for­eign influ­ence oper­a­tions for the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment. The case high­lights increas­ing vig­i­lance against for­eign inter­fer­ence in Aus­tralian democ­ra­cy, with the Aus­tralian Fed­er­al Police and the Counter For­eign Inter­fer­ence Task­force play­ing key roles in this inves­ti­ga­tion. Duong’s sen­tenc­ing is sched­uled for next year. On 25 Decem­ber, we report­ed that a group of New York State Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tors had embarked on a ten-day vis­it to Chi­na as part of a “friend­ship del­e­ga­tion” where they met with with sev­er­al Chi­nese offi­cials and sub­sidiaries of the Unit­ed Front Work Department.


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