By Brittany Chain and Charlie Moore For Daily Mail Australia – 28 May 2020
- Daniel Andrews signed Belt and Road agreement with China in October 2019
- Jean Dong, 33, runs a company which consulted Mr Andrews on the deal
- She rose to prominence after winning a Melbourne beauty pageant in 2011
- Ms Dong has praised Chinese president Xi Jinping for his handling of COVID-19
A Chinese consultant who advised Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on his controversial Belt and Road deal with China rose to prominence after winning a beauty pageant.
Jean Dong, 33, runs a company which 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 Belt and Road Initiative is a Chinese government strategy to build infrastructure and invest abroad, with deals signed all over the world.
As trade tensions with China mount, Mr Andrews has been urged to scrap the agreement, which he claims creates jobs for Victorians.
Federal Liberal MP Andrew Hastie told Daily Mail Australia that Mr Andrews had ‘gone off the reservation by conducting his own foreign policy with China’.
In a series of reports by The Australian, it has been revealed that Ms Dong was a key figure behind the controversial deal – and she has an interesting backstory.
Ms Dong studied commerce at Adelaide University before joining consultancy giant PwC as an ambitious 21-year-old.
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.
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 titled ‘Journey of influence’.