The operations of the Chinese Communist Party are generally opaque, especially to outsiders. But in recent years, the party’s reach and influence with the Chinese diaspora has become much more obvious, particularly in Australia.
Most recently, Liberal MP Gladys Liu, the first Chinese-Australian woman to win a seat in the lower house, was revealed to have ties to the World Trade United Foundation, a body whose officeholders are closely tied to pro-Beijing politicians in Hong Kong.
This follows the resignation of former Senator Sam Dastyari over his contacts with Chinese political donor Huang Xiangmo in 2017, and last year’s passage of a new foreign interference law, which was sparked by concerns over Chinese influence.
What connects all these elements is the Communist Party’s little-known United Front Work Department. The successes of this department have been crucial to building the party’s legitimacy at home and, to a significant extent, abroad, especially with overseas Chinese communities.
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