- Jaq James
Is Dr Wai Ling Yeung Fit For a Leadership Role in the China-Australia Relationship?
Updated: Jun 2, 2021
Below is a letter I sent today to the CEO of the National Foundation of Australia-China Relations (NFACR) - the Australian government body mandated to build a constructive relationship with China, particularly for the benefit of the Australian business community. The NFACR has attracted criticism for its make-up of the board, which includes Dr Wai-Ling Yeung (a retired academic of Curtin University).
I am also now questioning Dr Yeung's suitability for the board, as readers can see in my letter below. Here are the likely responses I will receive from the NFACR about my concerns in descending order:
Something to the effect that Dr Yeung is entitled to conduct herself in any way she wishes outside of her role as an NFACR board member.
A response filled with weasel words thanking me for my concerns and they will be brought to the attention of Dr Yeung.
What response should I receive if the NFACR is a bona fide instrument of constructive and respectful engagement with China? It is my belief that Dr Yeung should be removed from the board as she does not conduct herself in a professional manner.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again - being a 'China Watcher' should currently not be classed as a profession, but rather a mere occupation in the same league as hairdressers, window cleaners and dog groomers.
The NFACR's response to my letter, if there is indeed a response, will be posted here on this blog once received.
Dear Ms Michaela Browning
In your position as CEO, I would like to raise a concern with you about one of the board members of the National Foundation of Australia-China Relations (NFACR), Dr Wai-Ling Yeung, who also goes by the name Catherine A Yeung.
I note that the NFACR has as its mandate the bringing together of government, business and communities to “find and support ways to engage constructively with China” (emphasis added) and a commitment to building “a mutually respectful relationship with China” (emphasis added again).
In light of this reference framework, I would like to be informed of your position on whether you believe the public comments (below) made by Dr Yeung would give confidence to you and your Chinese counterparts that the NFACR has the capacity to engage with China in a “constructive” and “respectful” manner.
The first comment is Dr Yeung referring to me as a “shitty” lawyer, and falsely claiming that I was acting for a Ms Suzie Cong.
(Web location: https://twitter.com/WLYeung/status/1365239978033180674)
The second comment is a direction that I “piss off” and an imputation that I had been interacting with Dr Yeung on her social media space. To clarify, at no stage did I ever visit Dr Yeung’s social media page, nor make any comments to her or about her until the point that she singled me out with these two public comments. In fact, I had no idea who Dr Yeung was up until the 26th of February this year (the date of Dr Yeung’s comments about me).
(Web location: https://twitter.com/WLYeung/status/1365233353805295622)
I personally am not confident that Dr Yeung is a wholesome influence in the NFACR in terms of building a “constructive” and “respectful” relationship with China. For someone who is willing to be so rude and to operate on false assumptions so openly, I can only fear how bad it gets behind closed doors.
I have copied into this email the Chinese embassy in Canberra, as I believe the Chinese embassy should be aware of the character of people who make up the NFACR board and how the CEO of the NFACR responds to a board member’s unprofessional behaviour. I encourage you to copy the embassy in your response.
Hopefully you can alleviate my concerns and any concerns the Chinese embassy may have.
On a related note, I also have reason to believe that Dr Yeung may own, or be affiliated with, another social media account located at https://twitter.com/cnjourno, which can be described as being antagonistic towards China. I suggest for the sake of the confidence of the public and the Chinese embassy in the NFACR board’s impartiality that the possible connection between the webpage and Dr Yeung be investigated.
My first follow-up letter sent 24 March 2021:
Dear Ms Michaela Browning
This is an additional endnote to my earlier email to you today regarding Dr Wai-Ling Yeung. This evening it was brought to my attention that Dr Yeung changed her social media account page name, username and profile picture around the time of 6:30pm today, about 6 hours after my letter to you had been circulated in my professional network. Dr Yeung also deleted her comment where she referred to me as a “shitty” lawyer. I assume Dr Yeung is trying to portray me as a person engaging in a fraudulent act of doctoring an image to injure Dr Yeung's reputation. Fortunately the original comment of Dr Yeung has been archived and is located here: https://web.archive.org/web/20210226104128/https://twitter.com/WLYeung/status/1365239978033180674. Dr Yeung's new social media page is located here: https://twitter.com/cath_yeung*. I personally find Dr Yeung's acts this evening more concerning than her original offensive remarks, as it is my opinion that her acts are indicative of someone who seeks to avoid accountability and who seeks to cover up unprofessional behaviour.
Hopefully there will not be anymore bizarre actions taken by Dr Yeung that I will need to update you on in the future.
*Please note that on 25 May 2021, Dr Yeung changed the username of this account to semiotics_plus. As of 24 March 2021, Dr Yeung had two separate social media accounts.
My second follow-up letter sent 25 March 2021:
Dear Ms Michaela Browning
Unfortunately I need to update you yet again on the latest unprofessional act by Dr Wai-Ling Yeung.
In what seems to be a reaction to a Ms Suzie Cong’s sharing of my letter to the NFACR, Dr Yeung has responded by threatening she will report Ms Cong for “spamming” to her employer (the National Blood Authority).
I have searched Ms Cong’s social media account for evidence of spamming, as Dr Yeung claims, but have found no such evidence. Thus, it appears Dr Yeung is fabricating an allegation against a member of the Chinese-Australian community in order to punish her for sharing information that portrays Dr Yeung in a negative light.
In anticipation that Dr Yeung may delete the evidence of her threat against Ms Cong, I have archived the evidence: https://web.archive.org/web/20210324220501/https://twitter.com/cath_yeung/status/1374629721464434690. Here is a screenshot of Dr Yeung’s threat:
As you would no doubt be aware, under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has a right to work under section 23, and everyone has a right to free expression and impart information under section 19.
Clearly Dr Yeung taking punitive actions against Ms Cong to try to force the prospect of unemployment on her for sharing my letter is not in the spirit of valuing universal human rights.
My question to you is: do you believe that the NFACR is in any position to preach the virtues of human rights to the Chinese Government when an NFACR board member does not appear to value them in her day-to-day life?
I’m certain the Chinese embassy would also be interested in your answer to this question, so they have been copied into this email too.
On another note, last night I informed you that Dr Yeung had changed her social media account’s page name, username and profile picture. I also note that the social media account, https://twitter.com/cnjourno, that I informed you about yesterday as possibly belonging to Dr Yeung, has also changed its profile picture. The timing of these profile changes has certainly raised my suspicions.
Here is a screenshot of that page I took on 28 February:
The profile picture above was the same up until yesterday. Here is a screenshot of the same page as of 25 March with the new profile picture:
(Archive location: https://web.archive.org/web/20210324225802/https://twitter.com/cnjourno)
I note that on this CN Journo page, Ms Cong has also been attacked, which I have screenshot below:
(Web location: https://twitter.com/CongSuzie/status/1374797610477707266)
I will allow the NFACR to decide whether these intersections between Dr Yeung’s page and CN Journo’s page are coincidental or not.
Response from the NFACR sent 26 March 2021:
Dear Jac James
I refer to your email dated 24 March 2021.
The National Foundation for Australia-China Relations takes the commitments to professionalism and conduct seriously, including by persons associated with us in public remarks even where these are not made on behalf of the Foundation.
This issue is being considered under the relevant policies and procedures.
National Foundation for Australia-China Relations
My response to the NFACR sent 26 March 2021:
Thank you for your response.
Unfortunately Dr Wai-Ling Yeung has yet again changed her social media account page name, username and profile picture, but this time she has locked her account so the public cannot see it. For now, her account can be found here: https://twitter.com/semiotics_plus**. However, this change should not affect the archived links of her comments that I sent you in my previous email. This will be the last time I will update the NFACR of Dr Yeung’s social media account changes, as, frankly, her actions have become too erratic for me to keep pace of.
**Please note that on 25 May 2021, Dr Yeung changed the username of this account to redditiosymboli. As of 24 March 2021, Dr Yeung had two separate social media accounts.
Update 25 May 2021; edited 2 June 2021
It has been 2 months since I contacted the CEO of the NFACR and I still haven't heard what the outcome has been of the issues I raised about Dr Yeung, which they said was "being considered under the relevant policies and procedures".
However, I did discover, shortly after receiving the NFACR's response, that Dr Yeung's board member status on the NFACR website had changed to being "on leave of absence". Whether this was Dr Yeung voluntarily taking leave or the NFACR asking her to take leave, I don't know.
Either way, my hope is that Dr Yeung's absence from the board will give her time to reflect on what type of behaviour is and isn't becoming of a government board member, and that we will see no more public comments from Dr Yeung like the ones above or below.
(Archive location, 25 May 2021: https://web.archive.org/web/20210525003128/https://twitter.com/semiotics_plus/status/1345889348479119360; archive location, 2 June 2021: https://web.archive.org/web/20210529220826/https://twitter.com/redditiosymboli/status/1345889348479119360*)
(Archive location, 25 May 2021: https://web.archive.org/web/20210525004243/https://twitter.com/semiotics_plus/status/1345921385365962752; archive location, 2 June 2021: https://web.archive.org/web/20210529220606/https://twitter.com/redditiosymboli/status/1345921385365962752*)
*After this blogpost was updated, Dr Yeung yet again changed her social media account's username name, profile name and profile picture of both of her two social media accounts. The two archived links above reflect the changes. Any future changes made by Dr Yeung to her accounts will be reflected here to assure readers that the author, Jaq James, has not fabricated the public comments made by Dr Yeung.