Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Liberal Andrew Robb took $880k China job as soon as he left Parliament

Liberal Andrew Robb took $880k China job as soon as he left Parliament

Image result for Liberal Andrew Robb took $880k China jobImage result for Liberal Andrew Robb took $880k China job
Image result for Liberal Andrew Robb took $880k China job
Former Australian trade minister Andrew Robb walked straight out of Parliament last year and into an $880,000-a-year job with a billionaire closely aligned to the Chinese Communist Party and its key trade policy.
As part of the "confidential" consultancy deal, Mr Robb, the architect of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, began consulting to Ye Cheng the day before the July 2 federal election last year.
The arrangement, uncovered by a Fairfax Media-Four Corners investigation, involves monthly payments of $73,000 (including GST) to Mr Robb starting on July 1, 2016. Mr Robb had announced months earlier he would not recontest his seat of Goldstein.
Mr Ye is the owner of Landbridge, which controversially acquired the 99-year lease for the Port of Darwin in 2015. He is also a member of the national Chinese People's Consultative Committee, an advisory body that President Xi Jinping has directed to "uphold the CPC [Chinese Communist Party] leadership without wavering".
Ye Cheng, of Landbridge, and then trade minister Andrew Robb in 2015.
Ye Cheng, of Landbridge, and then trade minister Andrew Robb in 2015.
Photo: Glenn Campbell
The details of the consultancy have never been disclosed by Mr Ye or Mr Robb. Neither has the fact that Mr Robb is being used to spruik a Chinese Communist Party-backed trade park as part of his consultancy agreement.
Mr Ye frames much of his business activity, including the acquisition of the Port of Darwin lease, in terms of advancing Beijing's ambitious global trade and infrastructure project "One Belt, One Road".
The port's acquisition sparked a major controversy after then US president Barack Obama complained he hadn't been forewarned. The Defence Department and ASIO have vetted and cleared Landbridge's acquisition of the port. But the director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Peter Jennings, said the port deal might benefit Beijing's long-term strategic interests, and not necessarily those of Australia.
Mr Ye publicly announced on September 2 last year that Mr Robb had been appointed as a "high-level economic consultant". At the time, Mr Robb had already been working for Mr Ye for eight weeks, and had earned $146,000, including GST but minus expenses.
Landbridge head Ye Cheng, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and then trade envoy Andrew Robb in Beijing in April 2016. Three months later, Mr Robb was on Landbridge's payroll.
Landbridge head Ye Cheng, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and then trade envoy Andrew Robb in Beijing in April 2016. Three months later, Mr Robb was on Landbridge's payroll.
Photo: Landbridge
Mr Robb is one of several senior former Australian politicians who have been hired by or who hold roles funded by businesses or businessmen closely aligned to the Chinese Communist Party.
The ethics code for departing ministers bans them for a period of 18 months from lobbying or advocating to the government or public service on any matters they previously dealt with as a minister. They must also ensure their personal conduct upholds the reputation of Parliament.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and then prime minister Tony Abbott witness the signing of the declaration of intent on the Australia/China Free Trade Agreement at Parliament House in Canberra.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and then prime minister Tony Abbott witness the signing of the declaration of intent on the Australia/China Free Trade Agreement at Parliament House in Canberra.
Photo: Kym Smith
Mr Robb did not answer specific questions about his dealings with Landbridge, but said in a statement: "I can confirm that I fully understand my responsibilities as a former member of cabinet, and I can also confirm that I have, at all times, acted in accordance with those responsibilities."
Fairfax Media and Four Corners are not suggesting that Mr Robb has breached his obligations as an ex-minister.
Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng, former prime minister Tony Abbott and then trade minister Andrew Robb at the signing of the China-Australia free trade agreement in June 2015.
Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng, former prime minister Tony Abbott and then trade minister Andrew Robb at the signing of the China-Australia free trade agreement in June 2015.
Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
The trade park being spruiked in Mr Robb's name is to be built in Rizhao, a thriving port city between Beijing and Shanghai. It is backed by the Communist Party-controlled Rizhao City Government in partnership with Mr Ye.
According to an official Chinese government statement, the park is designed to capitalise on the China Australia Free Trade Agreement as well as Mr Ye's purchase of the Darwin port. Mr Ye plans to build a second trade park in Darwin.
Then trade minister Andrew Robb is congratulated after he concluded the second reading debate on the China - Australia Free Trade Agreement in 2015.
Then trade minister Andrew Robb is congratulated after he concluded the second reading debate on the China - Australia Free Trade Agreement in 2015.
Photo: Andrew Meares
In April 2016, less than three months before his consultancy agreement began, Mr Robb visited China with an Australian delegation in his capacity as Australia's trade envoy. The delegation was lobbied by Rizhao Communist Party deputy secretary Liu Xingtai to support the trade park as part of a "Two Countries, Two Parks" proposal.
"The proposal has been fully recognised and highly affirmed by the Shandong Province Party Committee, the Provincial Government and the Department of Commerce," the Chinese government statement said.
The statement also said deputy secretary Liu had met Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and NT Chief Minister Adam Giles on April 14, 2016, and "proposed the co-operative model of Two Countries, Two Parks".
Mr Ye placed Mr Robb on his payroll 10 weeks later.
One of Mr Ye's companies later produced lobbying material in Mr Robb's name in which the former trade minister described the Rizhao trade park as a project that "advances the objectives in the historic (CHAFTA) accord [that] I was honoured to play a significant role" while trade minister.
"I encourage you to explore the Australia Park in China… where partnerships and collaboration between these two great nations will flourish for years to come," the statement in Mr Robb's name said.
In March, Mr Robb and Mr Ye travelled together to Sydney from China, where both attended a business and trade forum hosted by the Australian government, as part of Premier Li Keqiang's visit.
In a November 2016 interview with the ABC, Mr Robb said that "most of what he [Mr Ye] wants me for is because of my knowledge of other countries and other governments. He's got a global strategy for his company and he wants me to help him outside of Australia more than he wants me to help him inside Australia."
The private agreement between Mr Robb and Mr Ye contains no mention of Mr Robb's international knowledge and networks, referring only to his role providing "consulting" and "strategic" services.
Mr Robb has also been spruiking Rymill Coonawarra, a South Australian winery in which Mr Ye has a financial interest.
Mr Ye's interest in the winery is via his brother, Gang Ye. The mayor of Mount Gambier, Andrew Lee, took a 10 per cent stake in the winery when it was acquired by the Ye family in October 2016 for an undisclosed amount, estimated to be more than $20 million. Citing legal advice, Mr Lee refused to say if he had paid any money for this stake.

Bear parts trafficking sting nets Chinese B.C. acupuncturist

Bear parts trafficking sting nets Chinese B.C. acupuncturist

Coquitlam, B.C., acupuncturist Yunhee (Sarah) Kim is being sentenced in provincial court for trafficking in bear parts, a trade driven by the mistaken belief in the medicinal properties of gall bladders and paws. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)
The patient appeared desperate, armed with $1,000 in cash and a list of complaints he claimed conventional medicine couldn't cure.
It was his second visit to Yunhee (Sarah) Kim's Coquitlam, B.C., acupuncture clinic; the possibility of a treatment involving bear gall bladder had surfaced at the first visit.
Kim claimed she didn't trade in bear bile.
But after a moment's thought, the 50-year-old walked to the back of the suburban clinic and returned with a Grey Goose vodka bottle that was one-third full of greenish liquid.

'A shot glass and a small plastic bottle'

Crown counsel James MacAulay picked up the story at Kim's provincial court sentencing hearing: "She had a plastic bag with something grey in it, a shot glass and a small plastic bottle."
MacAulay said Kim told the patient the plastic bag contained a bear's gall bladder; she claimed to have squeezed its contents into the vodka bottle. 
The herbalist poured two shots into the plastic container and the patient gave her $100.
The patient, as it turned out, was an undercover Vancouver police officer. He was working in conjunction with provincial wildlife authorities as part of a months-long sting operation allegedly prompted by a desperate mother's bid to cure her son's severe epilepsy.
Acupuncturist Yunhee (Sarah) Kim pleaded guilty to trafficking in bear gall bladders and paws. (Kim's Acupuncture and Herb Clinic)
Now Kim faces fines ranging from $17,500 to $1.75 million after pleading guilty to trafficking in bear gall bladders and paws under B.C.'s Wildlife Act.
Her co-accused, Yon Kim, has yet to enter a plea. 
But MacAulay told a sentencing hearing Friday the acupuncturist should pay at least $20,000 to $25,000.
He said a heavy fine is needed to send a message to practitioners whose belief in the medicinal power of wild animal parts fuels illicit trade.
"Ms. Kim is a professional in the field, and the message must go out to other professionals who may be tempted to use bear parts in traditional Chinese medicine," he told B.C. provincial court Judge Thomas Woods. 
"It's not OK."

'People were more important'

Nearly a year after her arrest in March 2015, Kim is still practising at the clinic she has operated for the past six years.
The guilty plea was entered in November.
According to a record of the proceeding obtained by CBC this week, Kim's lawyer told the judge her client grew up the fifth child of a Chinese herbal therapist. She immigrated to Canada in 2003.
She is not related to her co-accused.
MacAulay told the court the investigation began when Yon Kim called a hunter in Cody, Wyoming, in October 2014. She allegedly said her 21-year-old son suffered severe seizures, and she was looking for bear parts as a cure.
American authorities contacted B.C. wildlife officers, who launched an undercover operation. A female officer contacted Yon Kim, who asked about the possibility of buying bear paws as well.
This black bear gall bladder was seized in an unrelated case. The traffic in bear parts is driven by belief in the medicinal properties of gall bladders and paws. (Province of Manitoba)
Yon Kim said a Korean acupuncturist had treated her son with bear bile. MacAulay said undercover officer advised her trading in bear parts was illegal.
"She knew and was ambivalent about the killing of bears," MacAulay said.
"But people were more important."
A meeting was set for a Canadian Tire parking lot in Merritt. MacAulay said Yon Kim told the officer she would be bringing an acupuncture doctor, Yunhee (Sarah) Kim.
The two pulled up in a blue Honda SUV; the Crown said they paid $750 for three black bear gall bladders and four black bear paws.

Believed parts were obtained legally

In the weeks that followed, the undercover officers visited Kim's clinic, and sold her more gall bladders and packages of cut and wrapped deer meat. MacAulay said she asked for meat with joints to use as part of herbal medicine.
Then, in March, the undercover Vancouver police officer attended the clinic: "He presented a list of fictitious ailments believed by investigators to be the type of conditions that may elicit a treatment using bear bile by Sarah Kim."
MacAulay said the acupuncturist was arrested at her clinic shortly after selling the greenish liquid to the undercover officer: "Officers observed the bottle of vodka and a 100-dollar bill on the main reception counter."
Kim's lawyer, Karin Blok, told the court her client should be fined the minimum amount: $17,500.
Blok tried to claim Kim had no intention of trafficking in wildlife parts and believed she was buying paws and gall bladders from hunters who obtained them legally. 
Kim also claimed she was not the Korean acupuncturist who treated Yon Kim's son with bile. 
She claimed that prior to obtaining bear parts in the sting operation, she had never purchased or used them before.
"It was a grey area for her," Blok said. "She should have made inquiries, but she didn't."
Kim claimed she used the bile in the vodka bottle for her own health complaints and only threw out the $1,000 treatment figure to deter a pestering patient.
Blok said her client will be forced to disclose her conviction to B.C.'s College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists when she renews her registration in March.
The college said it was previously unaware of the charges.
But after an inquiry from the CBC, the registrar said the college will take immediate action to investigate.
Woods will sentence Yunhee (Sarah) Kim on March 4. A different judge will hear Yon Kim's case. Her next appearance is Jan. 18.
About Us

About Sarah Kim

Welcome to Kim's Acupuncture Clinic

I am Sarah Yunhee Kim, a Registered Acupuncturist(R.Ac) in BC. I am pleased that my treatment will make patients have a more healtheir life. 

Most of my patients have never received acupuncture treatments before, and it is my duty to make them feel comfortable with acupuncture and so I did. With proper diagnosis, treatment and a cooperative relationship between the practitioner and the patient it is possible to have optimal health. 

I practice a combination of Chinese and Korean styles of Acupuncture. I take pride in providing patients and sixty-year integrated clinical experience passed down from my parents. My treatments have a synergistic approach consisting of a combination of Acupuncture, Massage, Moxabustion, Herbal and Dietary approaches. 

I am a General Practitioner with special interests in Skin Imbalances, Pain Management, Digestive Disorders, Emotional Well-Being, Promoting Immune Support and Wellness and Women's and Men's Reproductive Health.

Sarah Kim is...

  • Registered Acupuncturist
  • Registered TCM Herbalist
  • Registered TCM practitioner

100 Quebec black bears slaughtered as part of gallbladder-trafficking ring, officials say

100 Quebec black bears slaughtered as part of gallbladder-trafficking ring, officials say

Network killed black bears for their gallbladders, shipping organs primarily to China

CBC News · 

On Quebec's black market, a bear's gallbladder can sell for up to $250 — a figure that rises to $10,000 in China 
After a three-year investigation, Quebec wildlife officials say they have dismantled a black bear gallbladder-trafficking network.
The poaching ring operated in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, Mauricie, Laval and Quebec's North Shore.
More than 100 black bears were slaughtered over three years, wildlife officials said. 
The bears were killed for their gallbladders, which are worth a small fortune on the Chinese black market for their supposed healing properties.
On Quebec's black market, a bear's gallbladder can sell for up to $250. Abroad, that figure rises to $10,000.

The gallbladders seized during the searches were put in plastic bags. 
"Each person involved in the network gets a share, so the value increases because there are several stakeholders whose ultimate goal is to reach the Asian market," said Jasmin Larouche, the head of wildlife protection in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean.
The organ is highly coveted for the bile it contains, some people believing it is effective in treating various illnesses, as well as being an aphrodisiac.
"It is recognized for several supposed medicinal properties," said Sophie Massé, a biologist from the Wildlife Ministry.
"Its medicinal properties are not at all recognized by Western medicine."
Selling bear gallbladders has been banned since 1998 in Quebec, in order to avoid the bears' slaughter.
Some 160 wildlife officers participated in the operation, which began in 2015. About 60 individuals were interviewed, and 16 searches took place.
Those charged face a total of 121 charges and could face fines adding up to more than $325,000.

These bear paws are part of the evidence that was seized. 
Jasmin could not say how many gallbladders were sold.
This isn't the first time Quebecers have been involved in poaching the organ — in 2003, two Quebec men were charged with illegal possession, transport, export and trafficking of gallbladders, according to a report in the Globe and Mail at that time.
In 1991, CBC reported that wildlife officers were concerned that the trafficking of animal parts, especially involving black bears, was out of control. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

UK's new Foreign Secretary admits to having a Chinese wife, fumbling around, the truth came out

Why Jeremy Hunt's 'Japanese' wife gaffe is a bad mistake

Media caption
The UK's new Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is on an official visit to China - but an embarrassing gaffe is stealing the headlines instead.
Mr Hunt tried to get into his host's good books by mentioning that his wife is Chinese - but called her "Japanese" instead.
He quickly corrected himself and those at the meeting laughed it off.
But the gaffe is making headlines and, as Mr Hunt himself says, it's a "terrible mistake to make".
Lucia Guo was born in Xian in central China. She and Mr Hunt met in 2008, when she was working at Warwick University. They have three children.

What exactly did he say?

Mr Hunt was at a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, when he said, in English: "My wife is Japanese - my wife is Chinese. Sorry, that's a terrible mistake to make."
He explained that he and Mr Wang "spoke in Japanese at the state banquet", before going on to say: "My wife is Chinese and my children are half-Chinese and so we have Chinese grandparents who live in Xian and strong family connections in China."
So why was this such a gaffe?

1. China and Japan are bitter rivals

Confusing China with any other country is bad if you're trying to curry favour with the Chinese government.
But of all the countries to get confused with, Japan is probably the worst one.

Chinese protesters burn a Japanese national flag during an anti-Japanese protest over the Diaoyu islands issue, known as the Senkaku islands in Japanese, outside the Japanese Embassy in Beijing on September 15, 2012Image copyrightAFP
Image captionAn anti-Japanese protest in China in 2012

That's because the two countries have had a particularly bitter relationship for decades. They fought each other in two Sino-Japanese wars, and are also in a dispute over territory in the East China Sea.
Among China's older generation, there are plenty of people who are reluctant to buy Japanese products or go to Japan on holiday - because they accuse Japan of playing down its wartime atrocities.
And there were several anti-Japanese protests across China in 2012, when tensions over the disputed islands flared up.

2. He was talking about his own wife

It's easy for anyone to make a slip of the tongue, or get confused about someone's race.
Mr Hunt speaks Japanese and worked in Japan - and says he spoke with Mr Wang in Japanese - which might explain why it was on his mind at the meeting.
But even then, it's awkward explaining why "Japanese" slipped out at a conference with Chinese officials - especially since he was talking about his own wife.
Speaking of which...

3. It fits a bad stereotype

Stock picture of three Asian women looking unimpressedImage copyrightISTOCK
Image captionIt can be risky making assumptions about somebody's race

There's a common joke that East Asians "all look the same" - and many East Asians have complained that people make lazy assumptions about what race they are.
For example, I've had people yell "Konnichiwa" (a Japanese greeting) at me even though I'm ethnic Chinese, while my British Japanese friend has faced several "Ni Haos" (hello in Chinese) from strangers.
Most East Asians I know would agree that it's not the worst mistake someone could make - but it's still pretty annoying.
Mr Hunt's gaffe may have been an innocent slip of the tongue - but it's a pretty unfortunate mistake to have made in this context.
And, more importantly for Mr Hunt - it's not going to impress his hosts, which was the whole point of him mentioning his wife in the first place.

4. Would it have worked anyway?

Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt (L) shakes hands with China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) after a press conference at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on July 30, 2018Image copyrightAFP
Image captionMr Hunt with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi

Given China's rising status as a world power, and the clout of its consumers, lots of politicians and businesses have been trying to endear themselves to the Chinese.
But it's easier said than done.
Both Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and French President Emmanuel Macron have tried to impress Chinese audiences by speaking Mandarin - to mixed reviews.
And having Chinese family ties doesn't necessarily mean smooth sailing with China either.
For example, Gary Locke served as the US ambassador to China from 2011 to 2013, and made headlines for being the first Chinese-American in the role.
But he still faced criticism from Chinese media, especially when ties were strained - such as when the US embassy in Beijing gave refuge to Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng.
State newspaper The Global Times made the point of reminding the public that Mr Locke was just a "normal" US politician serving Washington's interests,despite his Chinese ethnicity.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Australia on the front line of clash with China, says Steve Bannon

Australia on the front line of clash with China, says Steve Bannon

9 July 2018 
Image result for Australia on the front line of clash with China, says Steve Bannon
Australia, you didn't know it, but you've been at the very forefront of Donald Trump's project. "I think Australia is in a fight for the ages" that will decide whether the nations of the West can keep their sovereignty against Chinese intrusion, says Trump's former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, now a coach and adviser to populist movements worldwide.
"Australia is at the forefront of the geopolitical contest of our time," he tells me in his first interview with an Australian media outlet. He goes so far as to say that "what's playing out in Australia is more important than what's happening in the US and other places". "If we continue on this path we're down, China will control all of the countries of South East Asia and they will control Australia," argues Bannon, the chief executive of Trump's victorious election campaign and the man credited with the creation of "Trumpism".
The value of imports subject to the new tariff is about $US34 billion ($46 billion), with the Trump administration considering applying it to a further $US16 billion worth, plus the possibility of much more to come if China doesn't capitulate. Trump had put "America first".
China's Commerce Ministry said that Trump had launched "the largest trade war in economic history". It retaliated with tariffs on imports of American soybeans, cars and whiskey, among other products.
Steve Bannon, rather than resisting Beijng's rhetoric, embraces it: "We just started a war on Friday night." He was fired after the first seven months of the administration amid tensions in the White House, with Trump saying his former Svengali had "lost his mind" apparently because he'd made remarks critical of some of the Trump family. 
Image result for Australia on the front line of clash with China, says Steve Bannon
Yet Bannon is a staunch defender of the President. American media have reported that they remain in regular contact; Bannon says they talk through their lawyers. With the Mueller investigation into the Trump campaign and suspected collusion with Russia, discretion is the better part of valour, it seems.
Bannon exults: "I can't emphasise Friday night enough - it was the day that President Trump stood up for the American worker." Some US firms disagree. American companies that depend on Chinese components to make their products are complaining. For instance: "The tariffs put us at a disadvantage relative to competitors in Japan and Germany," hydraulics manufacturer Austin Ramirez of Husco International told The Wall Street Journal.
But Bannon says that the tariffs are merely emblematic of a much grander confrontation with China: "It's not about tariffs and math, it's about bringing manufacturing jobs back from China, it's about the dignity of workers, self-worth and community.
"Why do you think states like Wisconsin and Michigan and Ohio and Iowa that haven't voted Republican in living memory voted for Donald Trump? Because of China."
[This assertion is factually incorrect. Several Republican presidents in living memory have won these states, including Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush snr and George Bush jnr - Eds.]
Indeed, according to Bannon, "Trump's rise was predicated on two things - the financial crisis in 2008 that lit a match on the populist movement, and the rise of China as it profited from the West while Western elites looked the other way" because the elites, too, were making money from China even as workers suffered layoffs as a result of China's industrial success.
But Australia's trade position is vastly different. While Trump bemoans America's enormous $US366 billion annual trade deficit with China, Australia earns a hefty annual surplus from the China trade.
In fact, Australia generated a surplus of $35.5 billion from its merchandise trade with China last year and a further $13 billion from its trade in services with China, according to recent Australian statistics.
So how could Australia be what Bannon describes as "the canary in the mineshaft"? Because, he says, the struggle is not about trade in itself but about domination by the Chinese Communist Party.
"Australia is an object lesson in what to avoid. People [in Australia] played by the rules. It came up gradually, and then it was there."
Chinese investment went into "natural resources, tech, then you have overseas Chinese putting money into politics and now you finally wake up", a reference to the bills now passed by the Parliament to curb foreign interference. 
 "And you wake up and you say, 'hold on - who controls our economic base', because doesn't politics ultimately come off who controls the economic base?" The US and its allies must be resolute in defence of freedom of navigation against relentless Chinese advances, he urges.
And, while Bannon thinks of Australia as having fallen heavily under China's influence, he says Australia can recover because it has "the only people who can match the common sense, grit and determination year after year of the US".
It's a view Bannon developed as a frequent visitor to Australia as a naval officer with the US Pacific Fleet in the 1970s, though he's a touch out of date with 10 years since his last visit.
"I've said it many times, though I've never said it publicly, Australia and Italy are the centre of the two major political developments where the whole issue of the future of the nation state will be decided," according to Bannon.
Italy because it's the front line of the global "populist nationalist revolt", Australia as the civilisational front line against a Chinese Communist Party quest for dominance. "I watch it closely. Every day."