Chongqing

Is Barker now suffering from recovered memory syndrome?

Donghua Liu's partner Juan Zhang and Rick Barker at a Labour fundraising auction in 2007.

Donghua Liu’s partner Juan Zhang and Rick Barker at a Labour fundraising auction in 2007.

On June 18 Rick Barker was having a terrible time remembering Donghua Liu:

Mr Barker, now a regional councillor in Hawkes Bay, said he was a guest of Liu at the dinner in Chongqing and visited his cement company while on holiday in China. But he had not known Liu was a Labour donor and he was not in China on official business as a minister.

“I went to China to catch up with some friends of mine, see some sights … and I made a side trip to Chongqing – I had not been to the city before.

“I was in the city a short time. Mr Liu showed me his business and that night, I attended a dinner which seemed to be a dinner he had put on for all his staff.”

Mr Barker could not remember how he came to be invited to visit Liu in Chongqing.

He said it was “probable” he also had dinner with Liu in New Zealand.

“I am trying to recall events of over seven years ago, so it’s a little challenging.

“But it can’t have been a regular event, because if it was I would recall that. In fact, my contact with Liu fell away quite quickly.”

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Sounds suspiciously like Labour has “cash for access” schemes running as well

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Items for auction at Labour fundraiser

Once again Labour has been caught out by their own hypocrisy.

In the series of rolling stories about Labour’s own donations scams the Herald’s Jared Savage covers the murky world of Steven Ching..and his very own “cash for access” system of fundraising.

The man who hoped to be the first Chinese MP for the Labour Party has emerged as a central figure in the donation claims of Donghua Liu.

Steven Ching was a successful fundraiser for Labour and was No42 on the party list ahead of the 2005 election, but withdrew.

The Herald can now reveal that the Auckland businessman, who organised dinners where guests donated $1000 to sit beside former Prime Minister Helen Clark, approached the office of David Cunliffe about Liu’s residency bid.

Mr Ching was not home and did not return messages, but Labour sources confirmed he was the “conduit” between Liu and the party.

When the Herald broke the news that Mr Cunliffe wrote a 2003 letter on behalf of Liu’s residency bid, the Labour leader said he did not recall having ever met the businessman.

“To the best of my knowledge that letter came through my office and an immigration agent on his behalf.”

Mr Cunliffe this week said “to the best of my knowledge” Mr Ching was not that agent. “However he appears to have had some contact at staff level with the New Lynn Electorate Office over the matter.”

Labour sources said Mr Ching had links to Liu and became the “conduit” between the party and the millionaire businessman. “Ching was the ‘money man’ responsible for organising the fundraising dinners and established a good relationship with Liu,” said one.

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A book and now a bottle of wine, what else has Donghua Liu donated to Labour that is undeclared

The rumours of the expensive bottle of wine bought by Donghua Liu appear to be true with a photograph surfacing of a beaming Rick Barker handing over the bottle to Juan Zhang the partner of Donghua Liu.

We don’t yet know how much he donated for the wine, but it is looking increasingly like Labour has filed false donations returns…for at least two items.

A Labour Cabinet Minister presented a bottle of wine to the partner of businessman Donghua Liu at a fundraiser for the party.

The Herald has obtained a photograph of Rick Barker with Juan Zhang, who has two children with Liu, after he won an auction for the bottle at an Auckland restaurant in June 2007.

It is not known how much Liu paid for the wine – believed to be signed by then-Prime Minister Helen Clark – and Mr Barker said he presented auction prizes several times at Labour fundraisers.

He was the Minister for Internal Affairs at the time, and visited Liu in his hometown of Chongqing in China earlier that year, although he did not know Liu was a donor to Labour.

Two sources have told the Herald that Liu paid $15,000 at an auction in 2007 for a book signed by Helen Clark.

Labour general secretary Tim Barnett said a check of the party’s records showed no donation from Liu under his name.

Could Labour now face prosecution the same way John Banks was prosecuted…for filing false donations.

The amount paid for that bottle of wine is reported to be high 5 figures.

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Labour’s credibility “down the Liu”

Our credibility gap on donations is this big and getting wider

Our credibility gap on donations is this big and getting wider

Oh dear me, after all the sanctimony over so-called “cash for access” what do we find out this morning from Jared Savage…that Donghua Liu gave money to the Labour party as well.

Plus added into that kicker is the fact that he hosted a government minister at the time, Rick Barker, to a lavish dinner plus a visit to his company.

This is starting to make Labour’s beat up over Judith Collins glass of milk and a 20 minute dinner in Beijing look like a Big Mac, chips and coke in comparison to Labour.

And this donation wasn’t declared either…perhaps there will be a Police investigation into this activity. It was illegal even back then to not disclose donations.

A wealthy Auckland businessman, whose links to the National Party led to a minister’s resignation, also made a secret $15,000 donation to the Labour Party – and hosted a Cabinet minister at a lavish dinner in China.

The Labour Party has previously accused the Government of “cash for access” deals with Donghua Liu, who received citizenship after lobbying from National minister Maurice Williamson and whose hotel was later opened by Prime Minister John Key.

But the?Herald?can reveal Liu, 53, also paid $15,000 at a Labour Party auction in 2007 for a book signed by Helen Clark, the Prime Minister at the time, according to a party source.

The source said Liu also hosted Rick Barker, the then Internal Affairs Minister, at a dinner in his hometown of Chongqing.

Mr Barker, who is now a regional councillor in Hawkes Bay, confirmed he was a guest at the dinner and also visited Liu’s cement company while on holiday in China.

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There is plenty of affordable housing, it’s just all in China

People go on and on about affordable housing…there is plenty available…it is just all in China where there are hundreds of thousands of empty homes just waiting for occupiers.

Wait! There’s an idea…let’s ship out the underclass to go live in China.

Over the last two years of traveling constantly in China, I can say that I have not seen a single city, town, or hamlet without massive empty housing stock. A colleague, on two trips crossing about 1,500 kilometers overland, said that he was not out of sight of empty buildings even once. Up by the Siberian border, the town of Manzhouli has decided to become a tourist resort and built thousands of empty ?villa? developments. In the southern mountains of Yunnan, a colleague took video footage of 15 kilometers unbroken of empty highrises. The ghost developments stretch along Beijing?s southern Fourth Ring and through Shanghai?s Pudong and Xuhui. The East District Zhengzhou looks like a post-apocalyptic landscape. The new districts of Harbin could earn some revenue as sets for a remake of?I Am Legend. ? Read more »

WARNING: Wearing Gold Lorex symbol of corruption

The luxury watch industry is taking a pounding and the finger is pointed at the crack down on corruption in China.

Global luxury sales and epic Chinese political corruption have become so inextricably intertwined over the last decade that the recent kerfuffles in Chinese politics?the investigations and convictions and pledges of propriety?have been nothing but trouble for the privileged few. That became clear last fall, when political disorder in Beijing made it difficult to know which faction would end up on top, and one luxury-brand representative told the?Journal?that sales were down because ?no one knows who to bribe.?

Some of the heaviest hearts are in the luxury-watch business. No industry has enjoyed such a warm embrace in China as the one that packs such enormous monetary value into a small, easily exchanged physical object. And, sure enough, the luxury watch business enjoyed a banner year in 2011,?growing forty per cent. But then China?s anti-corruption campaign began, and by September, Bo Xilai was in handcuffs, and watch exports to China suffered a devastating blow?down 27.5 per cent compared to a year earlier, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. China?Daily?quoted an industry consultant saying the anti-corruption drive ?hurts the luxury watch business a lot.?? Read more »

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Factions battle in China

A friend of mine with and eye for Foreign affairs comments on the fall from grace of Bo Xlai:

The mystery of China baffles everybody. The analysis that Bo Xlai is running a Maoist resurgence could not be further from the truth. Yet every analyst appears to have bought into it. It clearly suits the Chinese politburo to proliferate that belief as if they’re holding the line against a new Mao. In fact, Bo Xlai is far too Western friendly and has a track record, particularly in Dalian city of progressing, liberalising and opening up to foreign investment. He was deliberately placed in Chongqing in the hope his liberalising tendencies would be buried by the challenges of cleaning up China’s largest city. The Communists wanted to neutralise him, but he showed his talent by being far too successful. The spotlight he thrust on corruption proved a huge embarrassment to the Chinese leadership and a manufactured corruption crisis was used to bring him down. Make no mistake, the real Maoists maintain power.

You won’t see much of this reported in NZ, it is far too complicated for media more concerned with whether or not John Key took a helicopter ride.

For context though you need to understand that that there is an internal wrestling match for power in China, which in now widely understood. Hu Jintao last week made an unprecedented statement which was a shot across the bows of Bo. They never speak publicly so they see this as a massive threat. Bo clearly didn;t take the hint and so they have moved against him.

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