Dr. William Chiu was highly respected in the Australian Chinese community and wider Australian society for his huge contribution to the China-Australia relationship over many decades.
He was a man who served as a positive role model for members of the Chinese community in Australia, and whose friendship was treasured by a large network of friends and acquaintances. A successful businessman, a leader and an organiser, he remained at heart a down-to-earth figure who treated everybody equally and whose willingness to help others was inspirational.
Dr. Chiu was born in Malaysia and educated in Australia and New Zealand. He gained two master’s degrees in Chemistry and Commerce, and received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Western Sydney.
Since 2000, Dr. Chiu took on many roles in a volunteer capacity as either convenor, chairman, president, sponsor or patron of community service organisations in NSW, particularly those dedicated to promoting a friendly relationship between Australia and China.
A staunch supporter and promoter of world peace and China's peaceful reunification
In 2000, Dr. Chiu was the Founding Chairman of the Australian Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China (ACPPRC), remaining in office until December 2014.
In 2002, when it was decided that a Peaceful Reunification of China and World Peace conference would be held in Sydney, he was instrumental in bringing former US President Bill Clinton to speak at the event, and persuading former Australian Prime Ministers Bob Hawke and Malcolm Fraser to sponsor the conference.
Dr. Chiu sponsored two visits to Australia by the Venerable Tulku Drupkang (Zhu Kang Living Buddha), who briefed federal politicians and the state Parliaments of NSW, Queensland and Victoria about Tibetan Buddhism. Tulku Drupkang also gave talks to students and community groups about Buddhism in Tibet and China, building new relationships and promoting cultural understanding.
He was a sponsor of the Hong Kong Australia Business Association (HKABA) for several years. The HKABA’s annual NSW Business Awards encourage individuals and companies to strive for excellence in all aspects of international trade between Australia and Hong Kong/China.
A noted philanthropist, a social activist, a supporter of charities, and a successful entrepreneur
For 12 consecutive years from 2003, Dr. Chiu was a major sponsor and chairman of the Eyes on China free medical missions to Tibet (2003), Sichuan (2004), Yunnan (2005), Xinjiang (2006), Inner Mongolia (2007), Guizhou (2008), Guangong and Sichuan (2009), Gansu (2010), Hunan and Fujian (2011), Qinghai (2012 & 2013) and Guizhou (2014), helping underprivileged cataract sufferers to regain their sight and restore normality to their lives.
More than 50 Australian eye surgery specialists and medical personnel have been involved over the years. The program has greatly enhanced co-operation and professional exchanges between medical institutions in Australia and China.
Dr. Chiu was a convenor to raise funds for Sichuan Earthquake disaster relief in May 2008. A total of $1.6 million was raised and the fund was delivered to the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese in Beijing in a ceremony witnessed by the NSW Premier Morris Iemma. Dr. Chiu also donated 16 water filters for use in the earthquake disaster area and sent an engineer to Sichuan to install them and train residents how to use them. He also provided more than 2100 disaster relief tents. Subsequently he paid a visit to Sichuan to meet victims of the earthquake.
He was a convener to raise funds for the flood victims in the south of China in 2008. Approximately $340,000 was raised to build schools and hospitals and other flood relief work. The money was allocated to the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese which organised the relief work.
He was convener and a significant donor for the Sydney Chinese community support effort for the Victoria Bushfire Appeal in 2009 and raised $222,950. Dr. Chiu personally donated $20,000 and was a driving force behind the fundraising. The ACPPRC also donated $100,000 for Sydney’s bushfire victims in 2013, and Dr. Chiu made a personal donation of $50,000.
In April 2010, he again mobilised the Australian Chinese community to raise funds for disaster relief, collecting AU$100,000 to help victims of the earthquake in Yushu County, Qinghai.
He was convener to raise funds for victims of the 2009 Taiwan typhoon, the worst in 50 years. Over $20,000 was raised for the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation Australia.
An active and persistent promoter of the friendly relationship between Australia and China
Dr. Chiu played an important role in developing economic and cultural exchanges between NSW and China, and his efforts were readily acknowledged by the NSW government. He was an Honorary Life Member of the NSW Parliament Asia Pacific Friendship Group.
He was a member of the NSW Government Asia Business Advisory Council (ABAC) from 2003. The council helps promote business and trade between Guangdong and NSW and provides high-level advice on business opportunities to strengthen NSW’s competitiveness in Asia.
He was state patron of the NSW Branch of the Australia China Business Council (ACBC), and was involved in many activities including trade, culture, education, health, humanitarian services, religion and research.
He initiated and promoted the establishment of friendly relations between Dunhuang City in Gansu Province and Kogarah Council; between Liuzhou City in Guangxi Province and Burwood Council; and between Maoming City in Guangdong Province and Willoughby Council.
Dr. Chiu received the 2010 NSW Premier’s Chinese Community Service Award, the Quong Tart Lifetime Achievement Award in Community Service.
He was an Honorary Member of NSW Parliamentary Lions Club (from 2012), Ambassador of Goodwill of Lions Clubs International (2013), Advisor of Lions Clubs International’s China Affairs Coordination Committee (2013) and received the International Presidential Medal of Lions Clubs International (2014).
A distinguished leader of the overseas Chinese community
Dr. Chiu was patron of the Australian Hokkien Huay Kuan Association, which has a long history in Sydney. The association was established to provide support services to migrants from Fujian, there is an office in Sydney and a clubhouse in Cabramatta for members to meet and to provide the elderly with social activities. Dr. Chiu’s family is from Fujian.
Dr. Chiu was chairman and major sponsor of the 5th World Fujianese Conference in 2005, which hosted more than 1500 people. The conference brought together native Fujianese from different parts of the world, establishing personal contacts and business links. In cooperation with other organisations, he initiated an educational organisation, The Australian Chinese Classics Reciting Centre, providing a platform for Australian children, whether of Chinese origin or not, to learn and understand Chinese culture, to spread cultural awareness, respect and tolerance. Currently more than 300 students.
He was life patron of the Australian Yongchun Association which provides support services to migrants from the Chinese region of Yongchun, honorary senior advisor to the Australian Chinese Teo Chew Association, patron of the Australian Council of Chinese Organisations (AUSCOCO), patron of the Chinese Youth League of Australia (CYL), and many other organisations.
A strong advocate for Chinese culture and for cultural and educational exchanges between Australia and China
Dr. Chiu was a major sponsor behind Hunan TV’s “Super Girls & Super Guys” concert at Sydney Entertainment Centre in 2008, when artists from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong performed in front of a full house of 6,000.
He was an inaugural patron of the University of Western Sydney (UWS) Foundation in 2008, and promoted the foundation through his extensive business connections.
UWS conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Letters on Dr. Chiu in 2014 in recognition of his distinguished service to the community in fostering China-Australia relations.
He sponsored the Chinese Philosophy Conference at the University of New South Wales in 2005, making it possible for the international conference to be held in Sydney for the first time.
He was a sponsor to the University of Sydney Business School in 2013 for its Australia China Business Network which has since published a series of high profile public reports on Australia China investment relations and a survey of Chinese investors in Australia which Dr. William Chiu had called for. The sponsorship has enabled this research to be continued on an on-going basis.
He sponsored a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Cancer Research project at the University of Sydney in 2008. Initially, he gave a $15,000 scholarship for a master’s student; he later donated more funds to continue the research project and facilitate discoveries in TCM that will benefit the health of future generations.
Dr. Chiu proposed the idea that the Water Cube aquatic centre for the 2008 Beijing Olympics should be funded by overseas Chinese. He was invited by the Beijing Municipal Government to speak at the National Day Celebrations marking the 52nd anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, when he presented money donated by overseas Chinese towards the project. In 2008, he organised more than 20,000 people to support the Australian leg of the Beijing Olympics Torch Relay. He also served as senior honorary chairman of the Australian Shanghai World Expo Organisation Committee.
He was honorary patron, sponsor and a donor for the Australian Yau Kung Mun Martial Arts Association. His contributions enable members to take part in athletics and martial arts, promoting Chinese culture through activities such as the dragon dances at Chinese festivals.
He was a Chairman of the Chinese National Day Celebration Organising Committee in 2009. With a $20,000 community development grant given by the NSW Government and other donations, the committee hosted a large celebration with Chinese performances and ceremonies at the Sydney Opera House Forecourt, attended by the NSW Premier and many MPs, the Chinese Consul General, the Chinese Ambassador, community leaders, businessmen and other dignitaries. More than 10,000 members of the public took part in the event.
He was convener of the First Memorial Day for Confucius (or Kong Zi) in Burwood in September 2009 to honour the influential Chinese philosopher. He was also a member of the University of New South Wales Confucius Institute Advisory Board.
He was the principal sponsor of the Powerhouse Museum Great Wall of China exhibition in Sydney and Melbourne in 2006. The exhibition was visited by over 113,000 people during its season in Sydney, and provided a unique opportunity for visitors to gain an insight into China’s rich history and culture. The exhibition included many national treasures and artefacts that had not been previously seen outside China.
The lofty ideals of William Chiu, continue to be a rallying point and a force of cohesion for the ACPPRC Council. William’s driving force and example have served as encouragement to all of us to willingly bear the burden of working hard together, in solidarity and without regret, for the past 15 glorious years.