Sun, Feb 10, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Chinese investor protests Australian visa rejection

Reuters, SYDNEY

A prominent Chinese businessman and political donor, linked in the past to a row about the promotion of Chinese interests, on Friday said that Australia’s decision to rescind his visa was based on nothing more than speculation.

Huang Xiangmo (黃向墨) is unable to return to Australia after the government rejected his application for citizenship and revoked his visa while he was overseas, newspaper reports said this week.

Australian media, citing unidentified sources, said that Huang was denied residency after intelligence agencies concluded that he could undertake “acts of foreign interference” and that he was unfit for residency.

Huang rejected that assessment and criticized Australia in his first public comments since the visa cancellation was revealed.

“It is profoundly disappointing to be treated in such a grotesquely unfair manner. The decision to cancel my visa was based on unfounded speculations that are prejudiced and groundless,” Huang told the Australian Financial Review.

“There are many Australian companies in China, aren’t they more likely to be susceptible to potential manipulation by the Chinese government?” he said.

Representatives for the Australian Department of Home Affairs and a spokeswoman for Australian Minister for Immigration David Coleman did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a short statement read over the telephone to reporters said that it did not know anything about the issue, but that China never interferes in the internal affairs of other countries.

Huang’s expulsion comes as Australia and China seek to repair ties that have been strained since 2017, when Canberra accused Beijing of meddling in its domestic affairs. China has denied the accusation.

Huang emerged as one of Australia’s biggest political donors soon after he began living in Australia. He rose to prominence after an influential opposition lawmaker was forced to resign in 2017, when allegations emerged that he was linked to Chinese-aligned interests.

Former Australian senator Sam Dastyari sought to encourage a senior politician not to meet a Chinese pro-democracy activist opposed to Beijing’s rule in Hong Kong in 2015.

Dastyari was also recorded warning Huang that his telephone might be tapped.

Huang stopped political donations after that incident, but later expanded his business interests in Australia. He last year paid nearly A$1 billion (US$711 million at the current exchange rate) for two Australian projects owned by Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group.

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