Throughout 2017, Australia and New Zealand were roiled by controversies surrounding alleged attempts by pro-Beijing lobbying groups to influence government policies. In Australia, one of the foremost figures at the center of these controversies has been Huang Xiangmo. Huang, who first became wealthy as a property developer in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, built a Sydney-based real estate empire after immigrating to Australia in 2011. Investigations by Australian reporters have revealed that Huang became a major donor in Australian politics, donating nearly $2.7 million Australian dollars between 2012 and 2016 to both the Liberal and Labor Parties (Sydney Morning Herald, 2017). Huang’s role as a donor became particularly controversial after it was revealed that, in 2016, he had attempted to use a large promised donation to the Australian Labor Party to influence that party’s position regarding PRC territorial claims in the South China Sea (ABC, November 29, 2017).
In addition to his roles as a successful businessman and an influential donor behind the scenes of Australian politics, from 2014 through 2017 Mr. Huang was also the president of the Australian national branch of the Council for the Promotion of the Peaceful Reunification of China (CPPRC). Aside from Mr. Huang’s lobbying efforts of, the CPPRC has remained active in cultivating Australian politicians and public opinion in other ways, such as its October 2017 sponsorship of an event in the Tasmanian Parliament intended to promote PRC-Taiwan unification (ABC, December 4, 2017). In statements to the Australian media, Mr. Huang has described his group as “an autonomous, non-government organization” that represents the ethnic Chinese community, and denied that it maintained ties to the Chinese Communist Party (Sydney Morning Herald, 2017). The group’s website echoes this message, describing itself as a “non-government, non-profit, community-based organization” with a mission to “foster and facilitate peaceful dialogue… for the peaceful reunification of China” (Australian CPPRC Website).
The Activities of the CPPRC Abroad
Although the CPPRC has gathered greatest recent attention in Australia, chapters of the organization exist throughout the world, in countries as wide-ranging as the Philippines and Namibia (Qingnian Wang, May 1, 2017; People’s Daily Online, November 29, 2004). The group has emerged in recent years at the forefront of groups representing, or claiming to represent, ethnic Chinese communities abroad; and has also become one of the PRC’s primary institutions for organizing and mobilizing the international Chinese diaspora in support of PRC policies. The organization maintains numerous branches in the United States, including chapters in New York, San Francisco, and other major cities. The national headquarters branch in the United States is the National Association for China’s Peaceful Unification (NACPU), located in Washington, D.C. 
In official statements, the CPPRC takes great pains to present itself as a private organization, sharing commonalities with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) created in other countries to pursue civic-oriented causes such as environmental activism, political mobilization, and humanitarian relief. The organization also takes pains both within China and without to present itself as one that represents broad sections of Chinese society outside of the Communist Party, stressing that it involves “people from various democratic parties as well as non-party affiliated people,” and that it is a “national organization formed of volunteer members from all walks of life, with an independent legal status” (China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification, April 23, 2008).