A former beauty queen turned Chinese lobbyist exaggerated her achievements while she worked for accountancy firm PwC, the company has claimed .
Jean Dong, 33, advised Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on his Belt and Road deal with China.
She was paid $36,850 of taxpayer cash to consult Mr Andrews before he signed the October 2019 deal without approval from the federal government.
The glamorous businesswoman, who has a background in connecting China with the rest of the world, boasted about her political influence in a YouTube video entitled ‘Journey of Influence’.
Jean Dong, 33, the company founder and director of Australia-China Belt and Road Initiative was paid $36,850 of taxpayer cash to consult Mr Andrews before he signed the October 2019 deal without approval from the federal government
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews signed the the October 2019 deal without approval from the federal government
Ms Dong claimed that she ‘convinced the PwC Australian leadership to consider Asia growth as a priority strategy and to achieve a clear advantage over its competitors’.
She further claimed that she ‘successfully facilitated a mutual and long-term economic collaboration agreement through China-Australia free-trade agreement for both countries.’
The company has since come out and refuted Ms Dong’s claims saying they had the initiatives in place before she had even come to work for PwC.
‘Jean (Jin) Dong joined PwC in 2009 as a graduate where she worked until 2013. Ms Dong was a senior associate, one grade up from graduate level, when she left the firm in late 2013,’ a PwC spokeswoman told The Australian.
‘PwC is a global network and PwC Australia had an Asian strategy in place long before 2009 which has been led by a senior partner in the firm since its inception.’
The Belt and Road Initiative is a Chinese government strategy to build infrastructure and invest abroad, with deals signed all over the world.
Ms Dong was a key figure behind the controversial deal – and she has an interesting backstory.
She studied commerce at Adelaide University before joining consultancy giant PwC as an ambitious 21-year-old.
Chinese consultant Jean Dong (centre) who advised Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on his controversial Belt and Road deal with China rose to prominence after winning a beauty pageant
The Belt and Road Imitative has been criticised by Western governments as a stealthy expansion of Chinese influence. Pictured: Chinese President Xi Jinping
In 2011, aged 24, she won the Australian branch of the Miss Chinese Cosmos Pageant, a global beauty competition for women of Chinese heritage.
She returned the following year to present the crown to her successor at Melbourne’s Crown Casino, reportedly watched by a host of influential Chinese business-people and political figures including Mike Yang and Gladys Liu.
Mr Yang was an adviser to then opposition leader Mr Andrews while Ms Liu, now a federal MP, was an adviser to Liberal Premier Ted Baillieu.
Ms Dong then set up several consulting companies and in 2014 claimed in an online profile that she was ‘heavily involved in advising Victorian state government on Australian-Chinese engagement’.
In 2015, aged 28, she set up her Australia-China Belt and Road Initiative company, which later consulted the Andrews government.
Calls are growing for Victoria’s labor premier Daniel Andrews (pictured in China’s Tiananmen Square) to review his controversial Belt and Road agreement with Beijing
The glamorous businesswoman with a background in connecting China with the rest of the world boasted about her political influence in a YouTube video, titled: ‘Journey of influence’
Ms Dong has also publicly praised leader Xi Jinping for his handling of COVID-19.
She was interviewed by the Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper, Guangming Daily, on March 27, and described Mr Xi s a ‘global saviour’ in his response to the coronavirus pandemic, The Australian reported.
She praised him for ‘providing confidence and directions for the global fight over the epidemic and economic growth’.
Ms Dong said the Chinese president had taken the lead in the fight to get the pandemic under control.
According to Ms Dong, other nations are turning to China to imitate their handling of the virus.
‘China is the first major country to constrain the epidemic and resume work smoothly, therefore the Australian friends around me paid special attention to President Xi’s speech at the G20 leaders video conference,’ she said.
What is the Belt and Road Initiative?
Unveiled in 2013 in Kazakhstan and Indonesia by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Belt and Road Initiative is the most ambitious infrastructure project in modern world history.
The multitrillion-dollar initiative involves hundreds of projects, most of them built by Chinese contractors and financed by loans from Chinese state-owned banks, across an arc of 65 countries from the South Pacific through Asia to Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping put their palms on a screen during a gas pipeline launching ceremony in Astana in 2013
The Belt and Road Initiative, essentially a Modern Silk Road, is made up of a ‘belt’ of six overland corridors that direct trade to and from China and a maritime ‘road’ of shipping routes and seaports from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean.
The initiative countries account for 40 per cent of global gross domestic product growth and 44 per cent of the world’s population, according to an analysis from Morgan Stanley.
As of July 2018, more than 100 countries and international organisations had signed Belt and Road cooperation documents with China, extending the initiative’s scope from the Eurasian continent to Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the South Pacific region.
The Chinese government calls the initiative ‘a bid to enhance regional connectivity and embrace a brighter future’.
Other observes and critics, however, see it as a push for the country’s position as a global economic power with a China-centered trading network while burying some countries under massive debt.