Dio Wang - calling Australia home, but never forgetting the past

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When Palmer United Party senator Dio Wang stood up for his maiden speech, he brought up the past of his home city of Nanjing, China – and the atrocities he says Japan committed.

He was the quiet political candidate that the electorate heard very little from, even after he finally won a West Australian senate seat.

But when he rose to address the Australian senate, he had plenty to say – using the occasion to take aim at Japan for its alleged war crimes in his home city of Nanjing, China.

“The worst of all the darkest moments took place from 13 December 1937 till late January 1938; a six-week-long massacre, a six-week-long nightmare, and a six-week-long living hell,” he told the senate.

“For China, it may be the longest six weeks in its entire history.

“But for the Imperial Japanese Army, it was never too short to torture, to rape, to murder 300,000 innocent men, women and children.”

Months after that speech, Senator Wang told SBS he would always bring up Japan’s past when the opportunity presented itself.

"I guess the first step in my mind would be to acknowledge they (Japan) did something wrong in the Second World War,” he said.

“Embrace it. Embrace your mistakes. Just like Germany did and then put it aside and look forward to what you can do to make the international relationships better."

Senator Wang said that Australia should also take a look at its international relations.

"If I were the foreign minister I would probably tell you we shouldn't appear to be favouring Japan over China,” he said.

“But I'm only a Senator so that's my personal view and that I'm not in any way trying to have an impact on how the country is going in that regard.”

Japan's acting ambassador to Australia Akira Imamura said it was not deniable that large numbers of non-combatants had been killed and other acts of violence took place after the Japanese army had entered Nanjing.

"(The) Japanese government has expressed its deep remorse and heartfelt apology to the people of Asian nations and other countries with regard to the suffering and damage caused by Japan through the aggression and colonial rules in these years,” he said.

“And having learned lessons from past mistakes, we made a very strong commitment not to repeat them and contribute to peace and development in Asia and the rest of the world."

Senator Wang may have personal views on Sino-Australian relations, but he said he was very happy to have made his life here.

"Yes, definitely Australia helped to shape me,” he said.

“If I were in China now, I'd probably be an engineer in a large company, or a small one, but I would probably not be interested in politics at all.

“So to that sense, Australia gave me a great opportunity to be part of the country and make some great decisions, hopefully, for the country."

Dio Wang was born in Nanjing, 34 years ago.

An only child, he said he was "spoilt" by his hardworking parents who started working when they were 16 years old.

He studied engineering at university in China, but then decided to make an investment in his education, which would later be for his life.

Dio Wang chose Australia as the best place to further his education and studied urban planning at Melbourne University.

It seems all the pieces in the now 34-year-old's life started falling into place.

He met his Chinese-born wife Josephine in the same course and after a few years in Melbourne they moved to Perth as Western Australia's mining boom kicked off. The couple now have a daughter Joanna.

Senator Wang eventually headed Australasian Resources, which was majority owned by self-claimed billionaire Clive Palmer. 

"I think we complement each other to a degree. I'm shy. He's not shy. So I guess that's a natural working partnership,” he said.

"Oh, if you ask him, he'll say it's all his ideas. I don't think he's acknowledged that so far but … it doesn't matter. As long as the party has the idea I'm really ok with it."

Senator Wang’s interests in politics lie in improving Western Australia's agricultural production - particularly exports to the Chinese market, and ensuring Australia maintains its investment in research and innovation.

He decided to join the political fray after what he says was a betrayal of trust by the previous Labor government over the introduction of the mining and carbon taxes.

"It got me thinking, why are politicians doing things like this? Why can't things be improved?” he asked.

“So I've been interested in politics ever since then.

“And when Clive decided he'd had enough of politicians and he ran the party I put my hand up and said I want to be part of it and that's how I got involved."

Dio Wang said he did disagree at times with the party leader, but he would always tow the party line.

He said he would listen to all sides of an argument, but there was no point being in the party unless you vote the way the party, or Clive Palmer, wanted. 

Something that's been left to him with the resignations of his former party colleagues Glenn Lazarus and Jacqui Lambie - leaving the Palmer United Party a party of two.

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