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Liberal backbencher Gladys Liu admits past links to groups tied to Chinese government

Image: Tracey Nearmy / Stringer

Liberal backbencher Gladys Liu has conceded she has been a member of three associations linked with spreading Chinese propaganda abroad.

Ms Liu has admitted she has held honorary roles with the Guangdong branch of the China Overseas Exchange Association, the United Chinese Commerce Association of Australia, and the Australian Jiangmen General Commercial Association.

The Liberal MP’s admission comes just a day after she said she could not recall whether she was a council member for two China Overseas Exchange Association chapters, in a Sky News interview.

Macquarie Media’s Federal Parliament Reporter Harry Spicer said Ms Liu has not admitted membership of one of those chapters.

“She still maintains she can’t remember if she’s a member of that,” he told 3AW’s Tom Elliott.

“If you’re a member of something for 12 years it’s pretty strange if you can’t remember whether you’re a member of it.”

The organisations have links to the Chinese Communist Party, and have endorsed the party’s divisive policy in the South China Sea.

Ms Liu, Australia’s first Chinese-born MP, says she is no longer affiliated with any of the groups.

The Chisholm MP has cut ties with some organisations, and claims other used her name without her knowledge.

Mr Spicer said the groups in question are involved in Chinese foreign interference operations.

“It’s a soft power exercise,” he told 3AW’s Tom Elliott.

“They have quite benign names and are largely seen to be promoting Chinese commerce abroad, but they do back the Chinese government and they have been trying to exercise soft power in Australia through donations, through endorsements of the Chinese government.”

The government is standing by Ms Liu.

“They maintain that she has done nothing wrong,” Mr Spicer said.

Labor has been trying to bring up the topic in question time today, but most of their questions have been ruled out on technicalities.

“The Prime Minister, of course, as soon as this is mentioned, usually goes and brings up Labor’s issues with corruption,” Mr Spicer said.

An ICAC investigation into allegations the NSW branch of the Labor Party received an illegal $100,000 donation from Chinese billionaire and property developer Huang Xiangmo is currently underway.

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