Update on the zoo … what a disgrace … as Pro Beijing groups mobilised to support the Ryde deputy mayor …
Pulling the ‘Race Card’ is no longer having its desired impact!
Pro-Beijing groups mobilised to support embattled Ryde deputy mayor
Angus Grigg, Edmund Tadros and Neil Chenoweth
Nov 14, 2019
“Pro-Beijing groups linked to the Chinese consulate in Sydney were mobilised to support embattled Ryde deputy mayor Simon Zhou, who has been condemned for playing the “race card” after being referred to the NSW corruption watchdog.
Mr Zhou used a council meeting on Tuesday night to call on Chinese-Australians to “fight back and stand up” amid cheers from the public gallery packed with his placard-wielding supporters.
*The Australian Financial Review has discovered these supporters were not a local community group as their signs suggested, but mostly from the Hubei Homeland Association, which has links through its convener to the Chinese consulate in Sydney.
The group was organised via Chinese messaging service WeChat, with those involved told they needed to let “bad people” in the media and on Ryde City Council know that they did not agree with the recent attacks on their “Chinese representative”.
The group was organised by a person using the WeChat handle Wolf Grandma, an apparent reference to the patriotic Chinese movie Wolf Warrior.
On an adjoining WeChat group one person noted this was not a grass roots organisation and warned others that the organiser was “working for and connected” to Chinese authorities.
The person said the organiser’s husband was a former member of the People’s Liberation Army and remained in contact with those at China’s consulates and embassy in Australia.
The group was told to meet at Eastwood railway station at 6.10pm on Tuesday and take the 515 bus together to the council chambers.
Professor Feng Chongyi from UTS said the “race card” was too often played by Chinese people. Steven Siewert
Feng Chongyi, an associate professor of Chinese studies at UTS, said the show of support for Mr Zhou had the Communist Party’s fingerprints all over it.
“Whenever these issues emerge they rally to put on a show,” he said.
“But you can easily see that the Chinese consulate and so-called patriotic leaders are behind it.”
Simon Zhou, left, with disgraced Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo.
Sydney deputy mayor went to Communist Party training camp
Professor Feng said the Chinese consulate in Sydney had changed tactics in recent years and now preferred to use “homeland associations” or cultural groups for pro-Beijing causes, rather than patriotic organisations, which had become too high profile.
Mr Zhou has been referred to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption after failing to declare a $4 million connection to disgraced property developer Huang Xiangmo.
Ryde mayor Jerome Laxale used his own casting vote to keep his job. Jeremy Piper
This followed Ryde council granting a key planning approval for the redevelopment of Eastwood Plaza, owned by Mr Huang’s Yuhu Group.
Mr Huang put the site on the market after planning permission was granted and stands to make a $135 million profit. Mr Zhou does not stand to benefit from the planning decision.
Some Chinese like to use so-called racism as an excuse to protect what they have done wrong.
— Din Lin, Chinese-language columist
Tuesday night’s council meeting was convened to ask Mr Zhou, who sits as an independent, to step aside as deputy mayor while any ICAC investigation takes place.
Labor mayor Jerome Laxale has referred himself to ICAC, but has not disclosed the details.
Mr Zhou responded to the motion with an impassioned speech, breaking into Mandarin at times, to say the attacks against him were racially motivated because he was born in China.
“These attacks are aimed at bringing down a successful Chinese immigrant,” he said to cheers from the gallery. “It’s time we immigrants fight back and stand up against this bullying and harassment.”
*Chinese-language broadcaster and columnist Din Lin said the criticism of Mr Zhou had nothing to do with racism.
“Some Chinese like to use so-called racism as an excuse to protect what they have done wrong. This is nothing about racism,” he said.
His comments were echoed by Professor Feng who said the “race card” was too often played by Chinese leaders when they were under attack.
Mr Laxale was forced to use his casting vote to break a deadlock on council and defeat the motion that sought to have Mr Zhou and himself step aside.
Mr Laxale’s casting vote was also used to water down a motion for council to formally refer the pair to the ICAC.
Rather, it “noted” a referral had already been made and said if the ICAC was to investigate, then council would fully co-operate.”
Ryde deputy mayor Simon Zhou with his supporters on Tuesday night.