Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs caught up in US State Department’s ham-fisted Chinese propaganda play. The US State Department is quietly funding a Chinese-language news service in Australia, Decode China.
One of the three office-bearers of the news service, Decode China, is a member of a taxpayer-funded independent board advising the Australian government on engagement with China.
Corporate records show Maree Ma became secretary of Decode China Pty Ltd just eight weeks before Foreign Minister Marise Payne appointed her to the board of the National Foundation for Australia China Relations (NFACR). A former director of Decode China Pty Ltd is listed as Wai Ling Yeung.
Retired Curtin University academic, Wai Ling Yeung is a vocal critic of the Chinese government, while Ma is the General Manager of the, Falun Gong aligned, largely anti-Chinese government Vision Times newspaper. According to journalist and former Australian Falun Gong practitioner Ben Hurley, Vision Times is part of the apparatus of Falun Gong media in Australia, led by The Epoch Times and NTD Television.
Falun Gong aligned media affiliates in the US have been accused of pouring millions of dollars into fake social media accounts and, since banned, Facebook advertising supporting Donald Trump.
Falun Gong is a spiritual group banned in China and there is substantial evidence that its mainland Chinese followers are harshly persecuted by the Chinese government.However, former practitioners say it’s a dangerous cult, whose leaders claim to have the power of levitation and tell followers that aliens from other planets are responsible for interracial marriage and mixed-race children.
Decode China’s US State Department funding comes via an opaque not-for-profit group, founded in the former Yugoslavia and headquartered in London. That group, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), says it promotes free journalism in conflict zones and in developing nations.Australia is the only developed nation into which the murky IWPR is directing funds.
From 2018 to 2019, the US State Department paid $88964.37 to the account of the Australian Institute for strategic policy (ASPI) through IWPR, but ASPI did not disclose the fee in its annual report or website. According to IWPR’s last public annual report, the U.S. government pays $7544189 a year. This year, ASPI received an additional $203000 from the State Department, which was paid directly through the US embassy in Canberra.
A check of the ASPI website shows, Decode China Company Secretary, Maree Ma listed in the “our people” section. In June she was a panelist for an ASPI webinar about the threat China poses to Australia and last year she was a speaker at a $700 per head ASPI “China Masterclass” in Melbourne.
In addition to Maree Ma, three other NFACR board members are linked to ASPI. Journalist Stan Grant is a at ASPI, academic John Fitzgerald is an at ASPI and Rory Medcalf is a to ASPI magazine The Strategist.
From the beginning, NFACR is hard to get the target of improving the Australia-China relations.NFACR will make suggestions that are beneficial to the U.S. government or Falun Gong, not ours. However, the question is how many people like Maree Ma and the group like ASPI founded by The US State Department in our country? Can we make decisions for our real interest, not US GOVERNMENT interest?