So now we know Kevin Rudd’s dealings with AustChina haven’t been limited to trips to China and sundry other points on the globe. This morning he told journalists he had met with AustChina founder Ian Tang for, he says, a cup of coffee and quick chat in Brisbane in “November or December” last year.

Yesterday it was revealed that two other members of the AustChina Five, Tony Burke and Wayne Swan, had also met with Tang in February.

Rudd has declined to release any documentation relating to his travel with AustChina or his dealings with the company.

The AustChina story is now getting into the sort of nitty-gritty that only politics addicts truly enjoy. But small details keep emerging that raise questions about AustChina. Yesterday Crikey stated that Q-Mac, a Perth communications equipment company, had sold high-frequency radios to the Sudanese Army in 2003. Q-Mac is listed on the Beijing AustChina website as a “strategic partner” of AustChina, which paid for Kevin Rudd’s trip to Darfur in 2006.

It turns out that “strategic partner” is slightly misleading. Misleading in the sense of being completely wrong. Q-Mac has advised that it had never heard of AustChina until Tuesday this week, and sells its Chinese orders through an entirely different company. AustChina now says Q-Mac is merely one of several firms it is “in discussion” with regarding business opportunities in China.

The firms Radio Frequency Systems, Longreach, Integrated Research and Future Fibre Technologies, as well as the CSIRO, might like to know they are also considered “strategic partners” of AustChina.

So now we know Kevin Rudd was not in Darfur at the expense of a company with indirect links with the Sudanese military. But Rudd and his colleagues might pause and consider their links with a company with such a flexible approach to the truth. Ever since Labor’s links with AustChina became known, we have been wondering just who exactly this company is. Misleading information on its website doesn’t do much to clear up the mystery.

And perhaps the Prime Minister can tell us if he’ll be catching up with Mr Tang and his associates when he visits Beijing in April.

Peter Fray

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