A Chinese consultant advising Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews on his controversial Belt and Road deal with China became known after he won a beauty pageant.
Jean Dong, 33, has a company that paid $ 36,850 in taxpayers’ money to consult with Mr. Andrews before signing the October 2019 deal without federal government approval.
The Belt and Road Initiative is a Chinese government strategy to build infrastructure and invest abroad, with deals signed around the world.
As trade tensions with China intensify, Mr. Andrews is urged to scrap the deal, which he says creates jobs for Victorians.
Federal Liberal MP Andrew Hastie told the Daily Mail Australia that Mr. Andrews had “left the reservation by pursuing his own foreign policy with China.”
In a series of reports by The Australian, it has emerged that Ms. Dong was a key figure behind the controversial deal – and she has an interesting backstory.
Ms. Dong studied trade at Adelaide University before joining ambitious consultancy giant PwC as an ambitious 21-year-old.
Chinese consultant Jean Dong (center), who advised Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews on his controversial Belt and Road deal with China, became known after winning a beauty pageant
The Belt and Road Imitate has been criticized by Western governments as a surreptitious extension of Chinese influence. In the photo: Chinese President Xi Jinping
In 2011, aged 24, she won the Australian branch of the Miss Chinese Cosmos Pageant, a global beauty pageant for women of Chinese descent.
The following year, she returned to present the crown to her successor at Melbourne’s Crown Casino, reportedly viewed by many influential Chinese businessmen and political figures, including Mike Yang and Gladys Liu.
Mr. Yang was an advisor to then-opposition leader Mr. Andrews, while Ms. Liu, now a federal Member of Parliament, was an advisor to Liberal Prime Minister Ted Baillieu.
Ms. Dong then set up several consultancies, claiming in an online profile in 2014 that she was “closely involved in advising the Victorian state government on Australian-Chinese involvement.”
In 2015, at the age of 28, she founded her Australia-China Belt and Road Initiative company, which later consulted the Andrews government.
The glamorous businesswoman, who has a background in connecting China to the rest of the world, boasted about her political influence in a YouTube video entitled ‘Journey of Influence’.
The video includes photos of her with former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (pictured), Tasmanian Liberal Prime Minister Will Hodgman, and former Labor Secretary of State Bob Carr
Pictured: Jean Dong, left, with former Secretary of State Bob Carr and his wife, Helena
The images provide a glimpse into Ms. Dong’s life, from her early days as a student journalist in Beijing to rubbing shoulders with political leaders, including former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and prominent Labor figure Bob Carr.
The footage begins with Ms. Dong standing on a hill with the Melbourne skyline behind her, talking about the people who inspired her before talking about her own success.
The video includes photos of her with Mr Turnbull, Mr Carr and then Tasmanian Liberal Prime Minister Will Hodgman.
The former Chinese television journalist moved to Australia to study at the University of Adelaide. After graduating in 2009, she moved to Melbourne to study international law before graduating advisory position at PwC.
“At the age of 21, I presented and convinced the Australian PwC leadership to view Asia’s growth as a priority strategy and gain a clear advantage over its competitors,” she said in the YouTube video.
“At the age of 26, I successfully established a reciprocal and long-term economic cooperation agreement through the China-Australia free trade agreement for both countries.”
More and more calls are coming in for Victoria’s premiere Daniel Andrews (pictured in China’s Tiananmen Square) to review his controversial Belt and Road agreement with Beijing
The video was filmed working as the general manager of Spark Corporation Group, The Australian reported.
The company focused on Chinese investments in Australian agriculture and resources.
Ms. Dong described it as “expanding Australian companies into Chinese markets through strategic partnerships”.
Mister Andrews is said to have first contacted Ms. Dong through his former advisor, Mike Yang.
Mr. Yang and Mrs. Dong both attended a youth delegation to China in 2014. Only 30 delegates attended the Beijing conference.
The well-connected Labor party worker is said to be the reason behind Mr Andrews’ strong relationship with the Chinese communist government.
Ms. Dong was later tasked with promoting the Belt and Road Initiative to Mr. Andrews.
During that time, her pro-Chinese company was also paid to provide advice on the deal.
The company received two taxpayer-funded contracts with advice on China’s global commercial game in 2017-18 and 2019-20 valued at $ 36,850 in total, The Australian reported.
Andrews’s government did not immediately release the information, which it blamed for an administrative error.
“ACBRI’s advice provided valuable insights into opportunities for Victoria arising from the BRI,” a government spokesperson told the publication.
‘Due to an administrative error, the first of the assignments was not published in the 2017-18 annual report of the relevant department. The second of the assignments is reported … as planned. ‘
The glamorous businesswoman with a background in connecting China to the rest of the world boasted about her political influence in a YouTube video entitled ‘Journey of Influence’
Prime Minister Daniel Andrews has signed up to the controversial Belt and Road Initiative that provides loans and investments in infrastructure projects
Ms. Dong has praised leader Xi Jinping for his treatment of COVID-19.
She was interviewed on March 27 by the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, Guangming Daily, describing Mr. Xi as a “global savior” in his response to the corona virus pandemic, The Australian reported.
She praised him for “giving confidence and clues to the global struggle over the epidemic and economic growth.”
Ms. Dong said that the Chinese president has taken the lead in the fight to control the pandemic.
According to Ms. Dong, other countries are turning to China to imitate their treatment of the virus.
“China is the first major country to quell the epidemic and resume work quickly, which is why the Australian friends around me have paid special attention to President Xi’s speech at the G20 leaders’ video conference,” she said.
What is the Belt and Road Initiative?
The Belt and Road Initiative, unveiled in 2013 in Kazakhstan and Indonesia by Chinese President Xi Jinping, is the most ambitious infrastructure project in modern world history.
The multibillion-dollar initiative spans hundreds of projects, most of which were built and funded by Chinese contractors through loans from Chinese state banks, spanning 65 countries from the South Pacific through Asia to Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
The President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping put their palms on a screen during a gas pipeline in Astana in 2013
The Belt and Road Initiative, essentially a modern Silk Road, consists of a “belt” of six overland passages that direct trade to and from China and a maritime “road” from shipping lanes and seaports from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean. Ocean.
The initiative countries are responsible for 40 percent of global gross domestic product growth and 44 percent of the world’s population, according to an analysis of Morgan Stanley.
As of July 2018, more than 100 countries and international organizations had signed Belt and Road cooperation documents with China, extending the initiative from the Eurasian continent to Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and South Pacific.
The Chinese government calls the initiative “an attempt to improve regional connectivity and embrace a brighter future.”
However, other observations and critics see it as a push for the country’s position as a global economic power with a China-focused trade network, while burying some countries with enormous debt.