How MP justified 14 trips to China

A SENIOR Queensland MP has defended 14 trips to China including some involving accommodation and hospitality provided by Chinese government officials.

And the LNP politician insists he didn't know he was dealing with a man with links to the Chinese Government when he helped him launch the Australian chapter of his drone association last year.

As tensions continue to rise over China's attempts to influence Australia's political arena, The Courier-Mail can reveal Opposition whip Rob Molhoek's links with the country through his frequent travels since he was elected in 2012.

Mr Molhoek was photographed alongside World UAV Federation chair Jincai Yang when he launched the Queensland chapter of the federation last year.

Southport MP Rob Molhoek. Picture: Luke Mortimer
Southport MP Rob Molhoek. Picture: Luke Mortimer

Mr Yang is a security expert who lists on his bio his work for the Chinese Government as a "special expert" of the Ministry of Public Security, the law and order arm of the Communist regime.

Mr Yang also founded the Shenzhen UAV Industry Association which paid for Mr Molhoek's accommodation during a trip to China made by the MP, declared on his Register of Interest.

The WUAVF also promotes major Chinese drone company DJI which was banned by the US military in 2017 over alleged spy fears.

It was temporarily suspended here in light of the US ban before being cleared to secure contracts with CASA and the Department of Defence.

Mr Molhoek has also previously declared accommodation and hospitality provided by other Chinese officials including a stay at the Fengkai County Government Hotel in 2014 as a guest of Zhang Hao, the Secretary of the Fengkai County.

When questioned about his China links by The Courier-Mail, the Southport MP insisted he had "virtually no contact" with Chinese officials.

He said was not involved with the drone association and only launched their Queensland chapter because he was invited to.

He also defended his frequent travel to China insisting it was all for personal reasons.

"My former fiance lived in China," Mr Molhoek said.

"I travelled to China on my annual leave to visit her at my own expense. I have only been to China three times in the last two years and haven't been to China since January 2019.

"I received a briefing from Shenzhen UAV Industry Association in China which has been fully disclosed."

The DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone is one of the best consumer drones on the market.
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone is one of the best consumer drones on the market.

Former defence and intelligence official Dr Ross Babbage said politicians needed to exercise caution in their dealing with China, especially when it came to being courted by high-ranking officials and those linked with technology.

"It has the potential to be very disturbing," Dr Babbage told The Courier-Mail.

"This is not like a company or an agency from a democratic country. China is completely different.

"The way they are operating is completely different to the modes and norms that Australians would normally understand.

"Especially one where there's technology, including advanced technology. The security services of China have very strong interest with nearly all of the Chinese-based companies that are exporting.

"As a consequence, for good reason, most people who know what they are doing in Australia and, for that matter, other allied countries are exceptionally careful about purchasing or being involved with any of that technology at all."