CHINA Australian court vindicates Chinese billionaire

CHINA

Australian court vindicates Chinese billionaire

Global Times

02:57, February 23, 2019

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(Photo: B&T)

A Chinese-Australian billionaire won a high-profile defamation case on Friday against a newspaper that claimed he colluded to bribe a former UN official, AFP reported Friday. 

Fairfax Media, publisher of The Sydney Morning Herald, was ordered to pay Chau Chak Wing A$280,000 (US$199,000) in damages after a Federal Court of Australia judge ruled that a 2015 article was defamatory, according to the AFP report.

New South Wales Federal Court Justice Michael Wigney made the ruling in favor of Chau, who also uses the name Zhou Zerong on Friday. 

"The natural and ordinary meaning of the words employed in the article, and the overall impression conveyed by the article considered as a whole, was not merely one of suspicion, but one of guilt," Justice Michael Wigney said in his judgment, AFP reported.

"I consider their (Fairfax and its reporter) conduct to have been unreasonable in many respects," said the judge in his ruling. 

Sydney Morning Herald published the article by John Garnaut Garnaut's "Are Chau Chak Wing's circles of influence in Australia-China ties built on hot air" in October 2015. It claimed that Chau had colluded to bribe former UN general assembly president John Ashe. Ashe was charged with accepting bribes in the US in 2015 and died a year later.

The Herald's report caused serious damage to Chau's reputation and angered the Australian Chinese community. The article was no longer available on the website of the newspaper when the Global Times checked on Friday. 

Observers said some Australian media outlets deliberately misled the public into believing that Chau had ulterior political motives when he made a legal donation as an Australian citizen.

They believe that the results of the trial show that Australia, as a pluralistic society, treats citizens from different places and with different cultural backgrounds equally. 

The ruling in Chau's defamation case comes amid controversy involving a wealthy Chinese entrepreneur. Property tycoon Huang Xiangmo's permanent residency in Australia was cancelled this month following allegations of improper political donations. In an exclusive Chinese-language interview with the Global Times, Huang said that the cancellation has had a huge impact on his business and his family, and he called Australia a "giant baby."

Australia's ABC News reported in June 2017 that Australia's domestic spy agency, the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, warned the country's major political parties about accepting donations from Chau and Huang.

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