The AFR and others reported this week that Channel Nine had been the subject of a Commonwealth Attorney General's Department query with regards the Commonwealth's foreign influence transparency register:
Right or wrong the example above provides a benchmark against which other similar cases can be compared.
The case of Minshen Zhu is well reported (see for example story below) and as a result of an ongoing investigation by this writer Zhu's dealings with the Attorney General NSW, Mark Speakman, and his NSW Liberal Part ,are now slowly coming to light.
Despite the very many reports about Zhu and his work with and for the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese Government Speakman does not seem to have done anything to address the issue of Zhu and his Top Group's obligations with regards their registration on the government's foreign influence transparency register; in fact it does appear as if AG Speakman and his officers are happy to encourage and defend Zhu and Top Group's activities even if they are in breach of that Commonwealth requirement.
The AG and his officers at the Legal Profession Admission Board NSW have evaded questions about their dealings with Zhu by relying on the increasingly common "too many emails" excuse which is in fact a threat-as Sydney lawyer Jonathan Bolton discovered, the excuse of "too many emails" can be turned into a criminal matter that involves detention by the NSW Police.
Meanwhile despite the 2015/2016 political donation scandal involving Top Group and its CEO and Principal Zhu, the LPAB and the AG have continued to allow Top and Zhu the right to grants LLBs and exercise powers pursuant to Rule 19 of the Uniform Law, which allows them to determine if a law graduate is fit and proper for admission to practice law in NSW and Australia.Those privileges have never before been granted a private entity let alone a foreign entity with close links to a foreign government that does not share Australia's legal traditions.
It is time that the Member for Cronulla answers serious questions about his dealings and that of his officers with Minshen Zhu and his Top Education Group Ltd.
Minshen Zhu: the fine art of one man’s brush with power
Minshen Zhu is without doubt one of the most politically-connected calligraphy academics anywhere.
Heading the hierarchy at the Top Education Institute, the education outfit at the centre of the funding scandal putting new scrutiny on the impact of foreign political donations, Dr Minshen has enjoyed access to heavyweight political leaders in both China and Australia.
It was revealed this week that Top Education paid a $1600 travel bill for Labor senator Sam Dastyari. That news came in the midst of heightened concerns about the effect of more than $5.5 million donated to Labor and the Coalition by Chinese-linked companies between 2013 and last year.
Dr Minshen’s reach, from within a humble college in inner-city Sydney, affords a rare public glimpse of academia in the service of Chinese government soft power. He is on the board of the University of Sydney’s Confucius Institute, an organisation run by the Chinese National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language and one which has been criticised in the past for skirting around difficult topics, including the future of Tibet, as part of teaching at a number of universities around the world.
Dr Minshen has, in the past, been an overseas delegate to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a body with arguably little real power but prestigious among the country’s political elites.
He has met leaders celebrating Chinese New Year in 2013 with then prime minister Julia Gillard, whose government appointed him to a ministerial consultative committee on Chinese matters.
He is even closer to the Chinese leadership, with the Top Education website meticulously noting meetings with then-vice president Xi Jinping and then-vice premier Li Keqiang.
A Top Education spokeswoman yesterday declined to answer questions about how Dr Minshen forged close ties with political leaders after starting his career at Fudan University and later graduating with a PhD in Chinese linguistics, ancient characters and calligraphy from the Australian National University.
He is but one of many politically well-connected academics found at the Confucius Institutes around the country, though the institute has been evicted from some universities elsewhere in the world after being found to restrict academic freedom and having been accused in one case as a front for espionage.
A survey published by the Parliamentary Library in late 2014 detailed how Chinese Communist Party “cadres” were involved in several Australian universities. The vice-chairman of the University of Queensland’s Confucius Institute, Liu Jianping, is also party committee head at Tianjin University, the report found.
Declassified Canadian Security Intelligence Service reports, published as far back as 2007, portray a calculated use of the Confucius Institute to achieve “a more prominent place in China’s efforts to increase its standing in the world”.