Wang Liqiang, a man who claims to be a Chinese spy, has defected to Australia and revealed how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is derailing democracy in Hong Kong and meddling in Taiwan. He also gave Australian authorities information on Beijing’s attempts to infiltrate Australian politics.
Defecting to Australia
In April, Wang traveled to Australia where his wife and son live. In May, Wang received orders from the Chinese government to travel to Taiwan using a fake identity for a covert operation. However, Wang had other plans. He was already fed up with the ways the CCP operated and wanted a way out.
“As I grew older and my worldview changed, I gradually realized the damage that the CCP’s authoritarianism was doing to democracy and human rights around the world… My opposition to the Party and communism became ever-clearer, so I made plans to leave this organization,” Wang said to The Epoch Times.
He approached the Australian Security and Intelligence Organization (ASIO) and presented his materials. The agency quickly moved him to a secret location where he still resides. In his 17-page plea for political asylum, Wang details the covert operations the CCP has employed to stifle free speech and democracy in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Wang admits to being involved in the capture of five Hong Kong booksellers in 2015. One of them had published a book called Xi Jinping and His Six Women, detailing the personal life of the Chinese leader.
Wang also helped funnel money to Han Kuo-yu, a pro-Beijing Taiwanese politician who is the challenger to current President Tsai Ing-wen. China invested about US$200 million in Taiwan, taking over about 20 media and Internet companies to promote their propaganda. He warns that China will be ramping up their efforts in Taiwan as the island nation is expected to go to elections in 2020. Following Wang’s revelations, Taiwanese security officials have started an investigation into the funding sources of Han Kuo-yu and his ties with Beijing.
Several wealthy Chinese businessmen have been accused by Australia of trying to influence local politics. In February, the government canceled the residency permit of one such businessman named Huang Xiangmo. Wang says that Huang had introduced a few Australian lawmakers to his boss.
John Blaxland, a security and intelligence expert at the Australian National University, believes that Wang should be given the highest of protections since he could be on the hit list of Chinese officials. “If I was his minders, I would be looking to double up on protection duties… And he must have minders. I’m assuming that someone is looking out for him and there are some protective measures in place. There’s a lot of eggs being thrown around and it’s stuck on a lot of people’s faces,” he said to The Guardian.
ASIO had recently admitted that it was aware of an alleged plot by the Chinese government to infiltrate the Australian parliament. Beijing had apparently offered about US$1 million to Nick Zhao, a member of the Liberal Party. He was found dead in a hotel room in Melbourne after approaching ASIO to discuss the plot.
“Australians can be reassured that ASIO was previously aware of matters that were reported today, and has been actively investigating them… Hostile foreign intelligence activity continues to pose a real threat to our nation and its security. ASIO will continue to confront and counter foreign interference and espionage in Australia,” Mike Burgess, ASIO Director-General, said in a statement (The Guardian).
Prime Minister Scott Morrison described China’s attempts at infiltrating the parliament as “deeply disturbing and troubling.” Though he rejected criticism that the country’s foreign interference laws were not strict enough, Morrison admitted that he was open to making changes in this area depending on the advice of intelligence agencies.