A Perth businessman who belongs to at least 10 organisations linked to the Chinese Communist Party has been awarded an Order of Australia for his “service to the Chinese community of Western Australia”.
Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi has repeatedly called for a royal commission into Chinese Communist Party influence in Australia.
The Australian reports, Edward Zhang, 68, is honorary chairman of the WA branch of the Australian Council for the Promotion of the Peaceful Reunification of China, the most prominent CCP-linked body in Australia.
The ACPPRC’s national chapter was formerly headed by Chinese billionaire and political donor Huang Xiangmo, who was barred from Australia last year over his close links to the CCP.
The Australian has previously reported that Dr Zhang is a member of several Perth-based groups affiliated with Beijing’s United Front Work Department, which is being used by Chinese President Xi Jinping to mobilise global support for the CCP.
He is also a political mentor to West Australian Labor MP Pierre Yang, who ran into controversy last year when it was revealed he failed to declare his membership of two pro-Beijing groups led by Dr Zhang.
In his inaugural speech to parliament, Mr Yang described Dr Zhang as “like an uncle to me. He advised me, encouraged me and supported me on my journey to become a parliamentarian,” Mr Yang said.
The Australian reported in December that Dr Zhang is also a member of the China Association of International Cultural Exchanges with Overseas Chinese, the Tai’an City Overseas Exchange Association, the Jilin Province Overseas Exchange Association, the Sichuan Province Overseas Exchange Association and the Shenzhen City Overseas Exchange Association.
Alex Joske, a researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said these five Chinese associations were directly run by the CCP’s United Front bureaucracy.
Senior figures in Perth’s Chinese community said yesterday they were surprised that Dr Zhang had received the Queen’s Birthday honour on Monday, and they questioned whether his political activities had been assessed as part of the process.
The Order of Australia recognises Australians “who have made outstanding contributions that benefit their communities, and ultimately our country”.
According to the Governor-General’s website, Dr Zhang was given an Order of Australia for a number of activities including his ownership of the Chinese-language Australian-Chinese Times newspaper.