An overseas pro-Beijing organisation, including the promotion of China’s controversial Belt and Road Initiative, has a driving force behind Australia’s decade-long infiltration, internal documents reveal.
In 2013, Chinese leader Xi Jinping first proposed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a cross-continental investment project to broaden China’s global influence through political, economic or cultural co-operation. In recent years, more than 70 visiting tours have been organised by the Australia International Trade Association (AITA) for the Chinese Communist Party and Australian officials.
The CCP’s United Front Work and Minister of Foreign Affairs are the civil organisations from Australia. AITA has launched extensive local events aimed at promoting the Belt and Road Initiative.
Since the formal start of the BRI in 2015, AITA has held annual fora to promote the BRI across Australia, according to CCP foreign affairs documents.
On 23 September 2015, the Melbourne Town Hall held the “Australasia China Cities Summit & Business Forum.” Wang Yanguo, a member of the United Front CCP, gave a keynote address on BRI policy.
Wang is the Chinese International Chamber Executive Vice President, All-China Federation of Industry and Trade (ACFIC).
According to a report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, ACFIC is managed by the United Front Working Department and encourages business people to invest in China and to become integrated in the United Front.
AITA hosted another three sub-forums in New South Wales, Tasmania and North Island, New Zealand in the same year.
Between 2017 and 2019, AITA presented the nature of the forum more clearly.
In 2017, according to official introduction, part of the original forum title was replaced by “Belt and Road Urban Development and Sister Cities Forum.” The forums were defined as “Belt and Road in Australia” in 2018 and 2019.
The BRI has been examined in Australia over the years and the forum 2020 has been downgraded to a ‘Belt and Road’ event hosted by the Victoria Parliament in Melbourne.
Australian Minister of Home Affairs Peter Dutton said that, during a 2GB interview on May 21, 2020, the BRI was a “propaganda exercise from China.”