It may come as a surprise to many people, and it did to me the first time, but the Chinese will pay lots of money to attend a political lunch or dinner where they may get the chance to be photographed next to a foreign Prime Minister or senior Government official.
They never get this kind of access to Government officials in China and so, once the formalities and speeches are over, an unedifying ‘scrum’ forms around the most senior person in the room while the chinese get their ‘selfie’ or prized photo trophy and, after showing it off to anyone close by, they share it with their millions of followers on wechat. The bragging rights that follow (and I’ve seen many of these photos appear in offices in China) more than justifies the high ticket price which, as we all know, is really a donation to the local political party.
This certainly goes on in Australia and I know it does in America where massive ticket prices are quoted to attend events at Mar-a-Lago when the prospect of a photo with President Trump himself is on the menu.
Everyone knows this goes on, and political parties need the money to fund their next election campaigns, so why is anyone surprised when it attracts media speculation about Chinese interference and influence? So, if anyone is worried (wrongly in my opinion, for the reasons stated above) about the influence that the wealthy Chinese have on politicians on both sides of politics, why don’t political parties simply find other ways of raising money?