Australia Confused about China? As political tensions rise, here’s a handy guide to navigating the Australia-Sino relationship
Burma: New clashes, the junta threatens to dissolve the party of Aung San Suu Kyi
© STR, AFP A manifestation against the military coup of February 1, in the city of Muse, in the state of Shan, near the Sino-Burme border, February 8, 2021. While the events and strikes against the coup are continuing in Burma and that the junta threatens to dissolve the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, fighters Hostiles at Putsch attacked Sunday a police station in a city in the eastern country, affirming having killed members of the security forces.
Video: Donald Trump was 'absolutely right' on China (Sky News Australia)
Today, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese will try to further distance himself from the Morrison government’s hawkish approach to China. In a speech delivered at Minerals Week, Albanese will accuse the Morrison government of politicising the China relationship, and having no strategy to deal with the country’s assertiveness without amping up domestic militarism.
“Morrison is making the grave error of prioritising his domestic political interests over Australia’s national interests,” Albanese will say.
China Military's Taiwan Invasion Force Conducts Amphibious Beach Assault Drills
The brigade in eastern China held combat drills lasting eight hours, expending several thousand rounds of ammunition, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported.The armored division of the PLA's 73rd Group Army, which is believed to be China's main invasion force in a presumed plan to attack Taiwan, expended several thousand rounds of ordnance during drills held on May 12, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said on Monday.
Understanding the ever-tense nature of Sino-Australian politics can be disorienting sometimes. Getting across thebetween Labor and the government over China requires a heap of background knowledge. Too often, that knowledge is a sea of jargon, acronyms and oblique references to news events quickly forgotten.
To cut through the confusion, Crikey’s got you covered with a comprehensive rundown of the key groups, concepts and events central to understanding what’s going on between Canberra and Beijing.
Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China
Formed mid-2020, IPAC is a bipartisan group of Western politicians who are united by concerns about China — in particular its treatment of Uyghur Muslims, pressure on Hong Kong, and foreign influence activities. Labor Senator Kimberley Kitching and Liberal MP Andrew Hastie are both founding co-chairs.
China Faces World's Longest Civil War in Neighboring Myanmar, A Crisis It Can't Avoid
China is "staring at possible chaos, rising anti-China feelings, and little hope that its planned China-Myanmar Economic Corridor can be materialized anytime soon," Thant Myint-U, an award-winning writer and historian of Myanmar origin, told Newsweek.As unrest deepens across China's porous border with Myanmar, the outbreak of an all-out war could trigger a triple security, economic and humanitarian crisis that would motivate Beijing to rein in the conflict before being forced to take more heavy-handed measures that would have far-reaching strategic ramifications.
Our domestic IPAC — a once-secret group of MPs united by their push for a more hawkish foreign policy stance on China. Their ranks include Hastie and Kitching, along with Liberal Senator James Paterson and Labor’s Anthony Byrne. Their name is a reference to the Reagan-era anti-communist Hollywood blockbuster Red Dawn, and they stand out because of the wolverine claw stickers on the doors of their parliamentary offices.
An informal international intelligence-sharing network involving Australia, New Zealand, the US, the UK and Canada that’s been around since 1941. In recent years, the network has turned its attention to China, and all countries have an increasingly tense geopolitical and security relationship with Beijing. But this year, New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta pushed for the country to pursue its own independent relationship with China.
Prince William and Prince Harry tried to con royal chef into serving them pizza
Princes William and Harry once faked a note from their nanny in an attempt to convince the royal chef they were allowed pizza for dinner.Queen Elizabeth’s former head chef Darren McGrady has recalled how he was given a note by the young princes, which they claimed was from their nanny, saying they could have pizza for dinner - and he nearly believed it if their "juvenile hand-writing" hadn't given them away.
Officially the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is an informal group involving Australia, the United States, India and Japan. First started in 2007 and reestablished four years ago, the Quad has been reanimated by concerns among its members about China’s geopolitical ambitions in the Asia-Pacific region.
Australian Strategic Policy Institute
A domestic think tank that’s taken a vocal, hawkish position on China’s activities. It’s done important work on foreign interference in Australia and repression of Uyghur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang province. But critics also point to its funding by the US State Department and weapons manufacturers.
United Front Work Department
An intelligence organ that uses community organisations and individuals in the diaspora to conduct influence and espionage activities for China.
Remember when Foreign Ministry hack Zhao Lijian tweeted an image showing a Digger cutting an Afghan child’s throat, sending Australia’s political class into a tailspin? That was a textbook example of wolf-warrior diplomacy (the name comes from a series of Chinese action blockbusters) — a concerted effort by Xi Jinping’s diplomats in recent years to go after countries like the US and Australia with aggressive, confrontational posturing, often in the form of mean tweets.
Biden Demands China Share Info, Lessons That Could Stop Next 'Catastrophic Biological Threat'
"Getting to bottom of the origin of this pandemic is not about assigning blame, it is about understanding how to prepare for the next pandemic, and the next one after that," a State Department spokesperson told Newsweek. "We need the PRC to participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international study with the needed access to get to the bottom of a virus that's taken more than 3 million lives across the globe," the State Department spokesperson added, "and, critically, to share information and lessons that will help us all prevent future catastrophic biological threats.
Belt and Road Initiative
Xi’s geostrategic plan to spend trillions connecting China to the world through a network of road, rail and sea infrastructure projects. It’s also considered a potential arm of Chinese influence, and has been criticised for foisting unsustainable levels of debt onto developing countries.
More recently, the Morrison government used new laws to cancel Victoria’s memorandum of understanding with China under the initiative.
In November, the Chinese embassy handed Nine journalists a list of 14 disputes it had with the Australian government. “If you make China the enemy, China will be the enemy,” officials said. Grievances included the Turnbull government’s decision to ban Huawei from Australia’s 5G network, calls for an independent investigation into COVID-19, and funding for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
In the midst of a week of Liberal leadership spills, the (then) Turnbull government blocked Chinese telco companies Huawei and ZTE from involvement in Australia’s 5G network.
The series of scandals in 2016 and 2017 that brought down ambitious Labor powerbroker Sam Dastyari led to heightened concern about Chinese influence in politics. Dastyari got Huang Xiangmo, a billionaire property tycoon (more on him later) to pay his travel bills. Later, he appeared with Huang at a press conference and contradicted Labor’s stance on the South China Sea, and later warned him his phone was being bugged by security services.
Drugs, attempted murder, near death! 10 fascinating facts about Mark Wahlberg
Mark Wahlberg has had such a colourful life, he has gone from a life of drugs and violence at a very young age, to a popular but short-lived music career, and becoming a talented Hollywood actor. He has packed a lot into the past 50 years, and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon! To celebrate Mark’s 50th birthday, here are 10 fascinating facts about his life.
A year ago, the Morrison government called for an independent inquiry into the origins of COVID-19. The move was criticised for going too early without the backing of other allies. It also set relations into a death spiral — in the aftermath, China put in place a series of trade sanctions on Australian beef, barley and wine.
Foreign Arrangements Scheme
New laws passed last year that gave the Commonwealth powers to cancel deals made by states and territories inconsistent with Australia’s foreign policy. As expected, the scheme was used to cancel Victoria’s Belt and Road Initiative deal. Confucius Institutes at Australian universities could be the next casualty.
Foreign Investment Review Board
A division of Treasury (now helmed by a former ASIO boss) which advises on overseas investment in Australia. Last year the government tightened rules so any foreign investment would be scrutinised. Since then it has blocked a bid for a state-owned construction company to buy here, and has led to a decline in investor interest from China.
Espionage and Foreign Interference Act
Part of a suite of tough new national security laws introduced in 2018 to crack down on Chinese foreign interference. In particular, the act broadens the scope of espionage offences and national security. It could also leave journalists.
Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme
Also introduced in 2018, the scheme forces anyone lobbying on behalf of a foreign principal to register. Intended to target Chinese activities, it’s been considered under-utilised, although it has tangled up.
David Marcus: The Periodic Table of the New American Right
At a modest distance from the presidency of Donald Trump one thing has become entirely clear, the American conservative movement has irrevocably changed. The aftermath of the Capitol riot was the fierce last stand of the old guard. Marshaled by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo. and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, the attempt to turn back the clock and restore the Republican Party to what it had been for the last 25 years utterly failed. For a few days there seemed to be an opening, but honestly, there never was. Now Cheney is out of leadership. There is no going back.
Chau Chak Wing
Billionaire property developer and philanthropist with close ties to Xi Jinping. Recently won a lawsuit against The Age and the ABC over a Four Corners episode that alleged he was buying Chinese Communist Party (CCP) influence in Australia.
Another billionaire property developer with ties to the CCP who gave nearly $3 million to Australian political parties. Connections to Huang eventually ended Dastyari’s political career. In 2019, security agencies cancelled his permanent residency, leaving him stranded in Hong Kong unable to return to Australia.
China’s ambassador to Australia for the past five years. Cheng began his tenure positive about the bilateral relationship. Within a year he was hitting out at the media for stoking “panic” over its foreign influence reporting, and his remarks have followed the trajectory of the deteriorating relationship. Most recently, he told a business forum the Morrison government was at fault for worsening relations, and lamented attacks on China from prominent Australian politicians.
Zhao is deputy director of the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs’ information department. But he’s most prominent as one of the chief “wolf warriors”. A prodigious tweeter, he sparked a meltdown in Canberra with hisafter the Brereton report last year. And he has form going after the West, so much form called him the “combative, bombastic, frankly Trumpy voice” of China on Twitter.
An academic and one-time Greens candidate, Hamilton has become one of the most hawkish voices on China. His 2018 book Silent Invasion, which argued Australia’s sovereignty was under threat from CCP influence operations, was dropped by its initial publisher over fears of retaliation from China.
A former China correspondent for Fairfax, who admitted his perception of the country’s rise shifted dramatically during his time reporting there. After journalism, he worked on foreign interference issues for Malcolm Turnbull, putting together a classified dossier on CCP influence. He’s credited as shifting the former prime minister’s views on China.
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We ignored China’s abuses out of self-interest. Now we’ll be the big losers calling them out .
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