A former Fairfax Media editor being sued for defamation by Chinese-Australian billionaire Chau Chak Wing has told the Federal Court he feared being drawn into a “reciprocity trap” or “web of patronage” after the property developer lavished him with expensive gifts.
Garnaut flew with an assistant to China and was met “on the air bridge” by the property developer’s personal assistant and whisked away in a “waiting black Bentley”.
“I didn’t realise he’d meet us at the door of the aeroplane,” Garnaut said.
Garnaut said they had turned down Mr Chau’s offer, via his assistant, to cover their accommodation and flights and “we were very clear about not taking any hospitality or benefits which were not logistically necessary to do the job”.
He said that Mr Chau “looked at me I thought with a little bit of a twinkle in his eye” at the start of the interview and suggested he come work for him as a journalist.
He said the pair laughed when Mr Chau said he could write “anything you want”. Mr Chau gave evidence on Tuesday that this was a joke rather than a genuine job offer.
More at The Australian:
“He knew a lot about me, including my zodiac sign,” Garnaut said.
“I was a tiger and he was a horse,” Garnaut added.
…The day ended with showbags, one for Garnaut, one for his assistant, with — all up — six bottles of Chateau Latour, the 1986 and 1994 vintages, and some of Bordeaux’s best stuff.
“I thought this was a major problem,” said Garnaut.
“I thought he was trying to bring me into his web of patronage.”
The half dozen were later sold at auction for $7000 with the proceeds given to charity.
Are you reading, Junket Jen Hewitt? I guess not, because fresh from her latest free trips to Asia supported by Andrew Forrest, she’s up in arms over the blocking of Huawei:
The Turnbull government is preparing for another showdown with China if it proceeds to block Huawei from any involvement in the 5G mobile network.
With Australia’s security agencies believed to strongly back the ejection of the Chinese telecommunications giant in lockstep with the Americans, a confrontation now seems likely.
This has echoes of the Abbott government’s decision to block Huawei from involvement in the national broadband network – ironically against the wishes of then communications minister Malcolm Turnbull.
But since then, the Australian-Chinese relationship has become more fraught and China’s willingness to take more aggressive retaliatory action more obvious as well as more high-risk for Australian businesses.
And? Pay back your airfares, meal tickets and hotel rooms then we’ll listen.
Then there’s the APA gas pipeline bid, from the AFR:
As we understand it, CKI has spent a good deal of time introducing both FIRB and the ACCC to its intentions and the proposal it delivered to the APA chairman a week ago arrived with assurances that preliminary contact had been made and that a deal could be done.
So how might CKI have secured that comfort zone? On that we are not privy. But I can tell you what I would do to sate any concerns within government or its regulatory agencies.
The first thing I would do is offer to deliver my unregulated pipelines into regulated oversight of the ACCC. The second thing CKI should do is spell out to governments and regulators that CKI’s cost of capital is materially lower than is APA’s and that its expectations for investment returns are maybe 200 basis points lower than its target’s. In other words, it will accept, and can live very comfortably, with lower returns from the network.
Good luck figuring out Li-Ka Shing’s relationship with the Chinese Communist Party.
At The Australian there’s more on the Pacific:
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela says some Pacific Islands nations are under pressure to sever ties with Taiwan in order to establish diplomatic relations with China.
The comments were made on Mr Houenipwela’s visit to Canberra to sign an initial agreement for an undersea internet cable between Australian, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
There is a dwindling list of countries which trade with China but maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan, and in recent months some countries have moved to cut their links to Taipei and adopt a “one-China” policy.
That bribery battle has been raging for decades. Taiwan plays it as much as China does.
And finally, there’s more progress on foreign interference laws:
…amendments include largely exempting private multinational companies, media organisations, NGOs and universities from having to register and limiting the requirement to register to an agent directly acting on behalf of a “foreign principal”, defined as a foreign government, political organisation, government-related entity or individual.
In what intelligence sources describe as a “China clause” to capture state-owned enterprises, a company that is 15 per cent owned by a foreign power or has 20 per cent of directors with links to foreign governments would be required to register.
If the government believes a company or employee’s links are not public, the Attorney-General’s Department can issue a transparency notice requiring them to register, which can be challenged in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. That could ensnare companies like telco giant Huawei or the Port of Darwin’s owner Landbridge, which are both private Chinese companies but have Communist Party links.
The power of nomination by the Secretary is unavoidably draconian but what choice is there given the above?
First up, Andrew Robb.