Who is Andrea Yu?

Who is Andrea Yu?

Who is Andrea Yu?

Updated 19 November 2012, 17:12 AEDT

Australian 'journalist' Andrea Yu has become an internet sensation for not asking the tough questions at the Chinese Communist Party congress. But who is she?

Introducing herself as Andrea Yu from Global CAMG Media International based in Australia, she spoke in fluent Mandarin.

"The Australian government has recently released an important white paper on Australia’s relations with Asia in the 21st century. It discusses Australia’s relations with Asia over the next 25 years, particularly Australia’s relations with China. Mr. Zhang, please tell us what policies and plans the Chinese Government will be implementing in cooperation with Australia. Xiexie, thank you," she asked, and then added in English: “I’ll translate for myself.”

The press corp laughed and Mr Zhang, Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, complemented her.

"You speak very good Chinese,” he said. “I understood everything.”

Ms Yu's luck continued. At another press conference she asked about cultural exchanges between the sister cities of Melbourne and Tianjin and how they could be improved. The scenario was repeated at least two more times.

And that's when the reporters started turning their questions to Ms Yu.

Melbourne-based, Beijing-funded

First of all, what was the CAMG Media Group, journalists wanted to know.

According to the company's website, CAMG is an emerging "media star" with media and cultural across the Asia Pacific region.

It was founded in Melbourne in September 2009, and says it has been committed to building "cross cultural bridges" with subsidiaries registered in New Zealand, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Nepal, among others.

By Ms Yu's own admission, few people have ever heard of CAMG.

Another little known fact is that its affiliated with state-run China Radio International, with the major shareholding in Beijing.

In an interview with Ms Yu, the ABC's China correspondent, Stephen McDonnell, asked whether she agreed it was disingenuous to present herself as an independent, international journalist when she actually works for a Chinese company.

"Yes, that’s a good question. It is interesting, and a lot of people have asked me about that. The fact is, I chose to be employed by them, and I’m representing their company. So when I ask questions in press conferences and anything like that, I’m representing the company as well as representing Australia," she replied.

Mr McDonnell continued: "The company though, it’s controlled from Beijing, right?"

"Ah, well we do have a head office in Melbourne, so…" Ms Yu said.

"The majority shareholding is from Beijing – that’s right, isn’t it?" Mr McDonnell pressed.

"Ah, yes, yes that’s true," she conceded.

Managers for CAMG have declined to comment.

Innocent journalist or covergirl?

And what of Ms Yu?

She was certainly the media star of the congress.

Ms Yu appeared on state-run China Central Television’s Monday night news bulletin.

She also featured on the official website of the Communist Party's newspaper, The People's Daily, in a slideshow labelled 'beautiful scenery at 18th CPC National Congress'.

Ms Yu told the ABC that she had only been working with CAMG for a month.

Not much is known about her life prior to that, but speculation is rife.

The Beijing Cream blog reported that her real name is Andrea Hodgkinson, and she will appear on the cover of the next addition of Oriental BQ Weekly Magazine.

The search for more information on laowai, or foreigner, of the moment continues.