China’s state-run broadcaster CCTV 4 aired a laudatory piece on the Liberal candidate for Kogarah, 26-year-old Scott Yung, in the dying days of the NSW election as the candidate posted endorsements from big-name Chinese celebrities.
The story, which ran on Tuesday, recounts how Mr Yung got into politics after acting as a translator for John Howard when the former prime minister visited Kogarah five years ago.
“Since this incident, Scott Yung became invested in the development of the local Chinese communities,” the CCTV anchor said. “Recently, he decided to run for office in the south Sydney electorate of Kogarah. If he succeeds, this 26-year-old will become Australia’s youngest state representative.”
The CCTV story, which did not urge viewers to vote for Mr Yung, concluded with the candidate’s hope for more opportunities for Chinese-Australians to participate in politics.
The story was promoted on Sydney Fashion, a page on the popular Chinese platform WeChat, which also included clips from Chinese celebrities endorsing Mr Yung, who is president of the Liberal Party Chinese Youth Council.
Actor Zhang Tielin, who appeared in the popular Chinese costume drama My Fair Princess, said Mr Yung had a bright future.
“I’m wishing the young and talented Mr Scott Yung great success, and to reach his end goal,” Mr Zhang said.
Mr Zhang’s endorsement is followed by similar words from Hu Jun, a leading actor who has appeared in dozens of Chinese movies and TV series, including John Yoo’s two-part epic Red Cliff.
Quotes from a roll call of other Chinese stars also wish Mr Yung well, including one from Lily Ji, who appeared in Hollywood blockbusters including Transformers: Age of Extinction and Pacific Rim: Uprising.
Mr Yung’s own WeChat account re-posted the same post, which includes a picture of his how-to-vote card.
The Liberals’ election bus stopped in Hurstville‘s Chinatown in the heart of Kogarah the day after the CCTV 4 video aired.
There, Mr Yung made headlines with his response to Labor leader Michael Daley’s remarks about “Asians with PhDs” displacing other Sydney residents.
“Michael Daley’s comments are racist,” Mr Yung said as he toured the seat with state Treasurer Dominic Perrottet on Wednesday. “I’m proud of my Chinese heritage.”
The CCTV item does not mention Mr Daley’s comments, for which he has since apologised, or the federal government’s foreign influence register, which was widely viewed as being aimed at China.
Labor’s Chris Minns has held Kogarah, in Sydney’s inner south west, since 2015 with a comfortable 6.9 per cent buffer.
But the seat is one of Sydney’s most diverse. About half of the population living there were born overseas, well above the state-wide average of around 34 per cent.
Census figures show 28.1 per cent of the seat’s residents have Chinese ancestry and 20 per cent were born in China.
Ethnic identity has become a significant issue in the election in the wake of Mr Daley’s comments, which were recorded at ‘politics in the pub’ speech in the Blue Mountains.
Mr Yung and Mr Minns were contacted for comment.
Nick is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.