Ian Tang’s Beijing AustChina Technology, the company that has paid for trips taken by Kevin Rudd, Wayne Swan and Tony Burke, mostly to China over the past four years, sells high-tech surveillance and other electronic equipment to the Chinese Government.

Beijing AustChina Technology makes no secret of the fact that it maintains close ties with the Chinese Government. As it states on its website: “Beijing AustChina Technology has established close working relationships with key decision makers and figureheads in government agencies in both Australia and China.”

This should not be surprising as the business of selling high-tech equipment to the Chinese Government is limited to insiders, who seek out the expertise required according to their patrons’ needs.

This seems to be the case with Ian Tang and one of his early partners in the business, Alan Eriwata, who passed away in 2006. Marking his death, the Taranaki Daily News said of the Kiwi native: “He (Mr Eriwata) worked in Beijing for AustChina Technology and was a key player in introducing Biometric Facial Recognition technology to government agencies.”

All this adds further intrigue to Christian Kerr’s story in The Australian where it was also revealed:

In June and July 2006, Mr Rudd travelled to the US, Britain, Darfur, Sudan and China on a trip paid for by telecommunications and information technology company Beijing AustChina Technology Ltd.

That trip, paid for by a company that supplies equipment with military applications to the Chinese Government, raises questions about the purpose of Rudd’s trip to Darfur and his relationship with the Chinese.

According to Human Rights Watch:

The People’s Republic of China, which has sold arms to successive Sudanese governments since the early 1980s, became one of the country’s principal arms suppliers in 1994 and remained so into 1998, largely because China had what Sudan wanted and attached no conditions, other than monetary ones and oil concessions, to their sale.

Previously, Rudd has said that his trip to Darfur was at the invitation of World Vision. Was Lu Kewen only joking when he referred to Ian Tang as “my Chinese controller”?

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey