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.”


Somalia struggles after worst flooding in recent history

Updated 14 November 2019

Somalia struggles after worst flooding in recent history

  • At least 10 people went missing when their boat capsized after the Shabelle river burst its banks
  • More than 250,000 people across Somalia were displaced by the recent severe flooding
MOGADISHU, Somalia: Ahmed Sabrie woke up to find his house half-submerged in fast-rising flood waters.

Frightened and confused, he herded his sleepy family members onto the roof of their home in central Somalia as scores of thousands of people in the town, Beledweyne, scrambled for their lives. Clinging to an electric power pylon by the edge of their roof, the family watched as their possessions were washed away.

“I could hear people, perhaps my neighbors, screaming for help but I could only fight for the survival of my family,” the 38-year-old Sabrie, the father of four, recalled.

As one of his children, unfed, wailed the family waited for more than 10 hours before a passing rescue boat spotted them.

Authorities have not yet said how many people died in the Somalia flooding last month, the country’s worst in recent history and the latest reminder that the Horn of Africa nation must prepare for the extremes expected to come with a changing climate.

At least 10 people went missing when their boat capsized after the Shabelle river burst its banks. Local officials have said at least 22 people in all are presumed dead and that toll could rise.

“This is a catastrophic situation,” Mayor Safiyo Sheikh Ali said. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who visited the town and waded through submerged areas, called the devastation “beyond our capacity” and pleaded for more help from aid groups.

With no proper emergency response plan for natural disasters, local rescuers used rickety wooden dhows to reach trapped people while helicopters provided by the United Nations plucked people from rooftops. African Union and Somali forces have joined the rescue operations and the Somali government airlifted food.

“Many people are still trapped in their submerged houses and we have no capacity and enough equipment to cover all areas,” said Abdirashakur Ahmed, a local official helping to coordinate rescue operations. Hundreds are thought to still be stuck.

With more heavy rains and flash flooding expected, officials warned thousands of displaced people against returning too quickly to their homes.

More than 250,000 people across Somalia were displaced by the recent severe flooding, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council.

Beledweyne town was the worst affected. Several thousand people were sheltering under trees or in tents.

“Floods have destroyed more than three-quarters of Beledweyne and submerged many surrounding villages,” said Victor Moses, the NRC’s country director.

Aid groups said farms, infrastructure and roads in some areas were destroyed. The destruction of farmland near rivers is expected to contribute to a hunger crisis.

The possibility of further damage from heavy rains in the coming days remains a concern, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Parts of the Lower Juba, Gedo and Bay regions, where IOM has supported displaced populations for years, have been affected. Many displaced people were stranded without food, latrines or shelter.

“In Baidoa, people have moved to high ground where they are in immediate need of support,” said Nasir Arush, the minister for humanitarian and disaster management for South West State.

Survivors like Sabrie now must struggle to rebuild their lives.

“We’re alive, which I am thankful to Allah for, but this flood disaster wreaked havoc on both our livelihoods and households so I see a tough road ahead of us,” he said from a makeshift shelter built on higher ground outside town.