Australia revokes visa of prominent Chinese businessman

The report comes as Australia and China seek to repair ties that have been strained since 2017. (File/AFP)
Updated 06 February 2019

Australia revokes visa of prominent Chinese businessman

  • The government rejected his application for citizenship and revoked his visa while he was overseas
  • Huang has in recent years emerged as one of Australia’s biggest political donors

SYDNEY: Australia has revoked the residence visa of a prominent Chinese businessman and political donor who has in the past been linked to a row about the promotion of Chinese interests, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Huang Xiangmo is unable to return to his Sydney home after the government rejected his application for citizenship and revoked his visa while he was overseas, the newspaper reported, citing unidentified sources.
The newspaper did not report a reason for the decision but it cited the Ministry for Home Affairs, which oversees visa applications, as saying Huang was “unfit” for residency.
A ministry representative declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Minister for Immigration David Coleman also declined to comment.
The report comes as Australia and China seek to repair ties that have been strained since 2017, when Australia accused China of meddling in its domestic affairs. China denied doing so.
Huang, who founded the Chinese property developer Yuhu, was not available for comment. The newspaper said he went to Thailand last month and it was not clear where he was on Wednesday.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), citing unidentified sources, said Huang would not be allowed to re-enter Australia.
Huang has in recent years emerged as one of Australia’s biggest political donors.
He rose to prominence after an influential opposition lawmaker was in 2017 forced to resign after allegations emerged that he was linked to Chinese-aligned interests.
The opposition member, 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 as warning Huang that his phone may be tapped.
Dastyari also appeared on a video tape, standing next to Huang, appearing to endorse China’s contentious expansion in disputed areas of the South China Sea, against his party’s platform.
Australia, despite moving to repair its relationship with, China, has passed a series of tough new bills that are designed to limit offshore influence, legislation widely seen as aimed at China.
In 2018, Huang paid nearly A$1 billion ($715 million) for two Australian projects owned by Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne, asked about the newspaper report, said she “understood that a high-profile individual” had had their visa canceled.
“I don’t expect it to be the subject of a bilateral discussion,” Payne told the ABC when asked if she feared the issue would have an impact on relations with China.
“We have a good relationship with mutual respect.”


Lampedusa mayor slams Rome over migrant boat standoff

Updated 48 min 26 sec ago

Lampedusa mayor slams Rome over migrant boat standoff

  • “The island no longer exists politically. It is just exploited in political clashes in Rome.”

LAMPEDUSA, Italy: The mayor of Italy’s Lampedusa island on Thursday denounced the collapsing government for its failure to deal with migrant rescue boats, as a ship carrying 356 people remained stranded in the Mediterranean.
Mayor Salvatore Martello said the reception center on the tiny isle was already over capacity and would struggle to house migrants currently stuck aboard the Norwegian-flagged Ocean Viking.
The vessel, run by charities Doctors Without Borders and SOS Mediterranee, has sought a port for almost two weeks after rescuing four boats of migrants off the Libyan coast between 9 and 12 August.
“It would be difficult because the reception center is saturated,” Martello told AFP.
“The island no longer exists politically. It is just exploited in political clashes in Rome.”
Lampedusa has long been a magnet for African migrants fleeing poverty and conflict.
Thousands have attempted to make the unsafe crossing from Libya in a bid to reach Europe this year, despite efforts to deter them.
Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has been accused of demonizing migrants and leaving them to drown in the sea.
He has repeatedly insisted that rescued migrants can only land in Italy if other EU countries take them in.
Italy’s president on Thursday was holding a second day of talks after the disintegration of the anti-immigrant coalition government, which broke down after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Tuesday.
The plight of the migrants aboard the Ocean Viking, which was denied entry by both Italy and Malta, is the latest in a string of migrant boat standoffs with Italian authorities.
The Open Arms rescue ship was allowed to land in Lampedusa on Wednesday, with 83 migrants disembarking, after Italian justice ordered they be brought ashore.
Many of them had spent 19 days on board the ship after being picked up while in difficulty in waters off Libya.
There were initially 147 mainly African migrants on the ship but all minors and some suffering health problems had already disembarked.
A European deal to redistribute them has yet to be implemented.