Tag Archives: Diplomacy

One in five Australian Chinese reports an attack or threat amid the pandemic, tensions are rising | Instant News

SYDNEY (Reuters) – One in five Chinese Australians say they have been physically threatened or attacked in the past year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and tensions in Australia’s relations with China, a survey by the Lowy Institute think tank reported.

FILE PHOTOS: Sydney Harbor Bridge seen through train windows in Sydney, Australia, 11 November 2020. REUTERS / Loren Elliott

The findings prompted calls from the Chinese Australian Forum, a community group, for national leadership to tackle racism as Australia deals with a more assertive China, as well as recognition that the Chinese community in Australia has diverse political views and origins.

About 5% of Australia’s 25 million population claim Chinese ancestry, the national census shows. Half of Lowy’s survey respondents were born outside of mainland China, in places including Hong Kong, Malaysia and Taiwan.

“Chinese Australians will always be caught in geopolitical tensions with (China),” said the president of the Australia China Forum, Jason Li.

“How we manage the growing distrust of 1.4 million fellow Australians will be a significant test of our multiculturalism and our values ​​as an open liberal society.”

Three-quarters of respondents said Australia was a good or very good place to live.

The survey was conducted when the Chinese embassy published a speech by deputy chief of mission Wang Xining, who attacked “ruffians” in Australia who criticized the Chinese government.

“The ruffians who deliberately slander China, undermine Sino-Australian friendship and undermine the welfare of the two nations for personal gain will be eliminated by the world, and their descendants will be embarrassed to mention their negative role in history, Wang said at an Australia China Business Council dinner.

The embassy has previously listed complaints against Australia, including Canberra’s call for an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, a ban on Chinese telecommunications company Huawe from participating in 5G networks, and restricting foreign investment on national security grounds.


Australia introduced a foreign interference law in 2018 that has increased scrutiny of political contributions by Australian Chinese and led to police raids on Chinese media.

Half of Lowy’s survey respondents said they were concerned about China’s influence on Australia’s political process, and half said the media and politicians were paying “the right amount” or “too little” attention to the issue.

Australian public broadcaster ABC launched a Chinese-language Youtube video channel this week offering Australian news, following concerns from the government and some community groups about the Chinese government’s influence on Chinese-language media outlets in Australia.

Li said the survey’s findings that seven in 10 Australian Chinese feel they belong to Australia “testifies to the strength of Australian multiculturalism”.

An equal number of Australian Chinese say they feel part of the Chinese (68%).

The survey also found strong support (65%) for Australia looking to find other markets to reduce its economic dependence on China.

This is the first time the Lowy Institute has conducted a Being Chinese in Australia survey of around 1,000 people, mostly recruited on social media, including Australian citizens, permanent residents and a large number of long-term visa holders. It is funded by the Australian government.

Reporting by Kirsty Needham; Edited by Lincoln Feast.


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Integral ecology at the heart of Australia’s commitment to tackling Climate Change | Instant News

As one of the countries worst affected by climate change in the world, Australia is committed to tackling the problem by considering an integral ecological perspective and leading the way in adaptation, new “green” technologies and renewable energy. In this interview the Australian ambassador to the Holy See looks forward to COP-26 and reflects on the impact of Pope Francis’ teachings on “Caring for our Common Home.”

By Linda Bordoni

Unprecedented weather conditions driven by climate change continue to impact countries and communities highlighting the need for new approaches to natural resource management and conservation.

As the world’s driest continent, Australia has been badly hit by devastating forest fires that have caused death, destruction and economic loss.

But as Chiara Porro, The Australian Ambassador to the Holy See explained in an interview with Vatican Radio that Australia is also determined to take the lead in implementing new green technology infrastructure and techniques while making good use of the knowledge and techniques developed by its indigenous peoples over the centuries.

What’s more, Ms Porro explained, the Australian government is “on track to beat the Climate Change Goal 2030” by reducing greenhouse gas emissions while investing heavily in renewable energy.

Listen to an interview with Ambassador Chiara Porro

A year ago Australia just realized the devastating effects of the worst wildfires we have experienced in our history. Many lives were lost, buildings were damaged, communities were badly affected, and our wildlife was badly damaged. As the driest continent in the world, Australia has always had to deal with extreme weather events and our indigenous people have, over thousands of years, developed techniques for managing natural resources. However, the intensity and frequency experienced at this time has never been seen before. I think climate change is the single biggest threat to our region right now. It is clear that we need to invest in urgent practical action now.

Observers are very critical of several decisions taken by the government. They say that your prime minister is going through a little bit of a struggle between trying to achieve the goals set by the Paris Climate Agreement and the country’s strong coal industry.

Regarding the issue of emissions, I think reducing emissions is of course important in the long term. But what is urgently needed now, is a strong focus and investment in adaptation.

In line with emissions concerns, Australia is on track to beat our 2030 target. We have reduced emissions by nearly 17% since 2005, faster than many other developed countries.

We are also investing heavily in renewable technology and renewable energy and we are building wind and solar energy capacity that is 10 times the global average. This means we have the highest absorption in the world: one in four homes in Australia now has solar power.

And with renewable energy, at least 50% of our electricity will be contributed by 2030. That means we realize that the economy needs to change and this change is happening. We’re also investing heavily in hydrogen and other renewable technologies that could potentially one day be exported to Southeast Asia, replacing exports of more polluting energy.

Australia will participate in the next COP 26 which will take place in Glasgow in November. What do you think will be brought to the table?

That is still being debated. But I think you know we’re working very closely with England as Cop26 President, and we’ve made some announcements and commitments, including adaptations. We have also increased climate finance by 50% to $ 1.5 billion at least over the next period, and we are leading climate change in our region in the Pacific.

We’ve been working with disaster relief for two decades, and we have a number of initiatives, such as our $ 2 billion infrastructure financing facility for the Pacific, focused on building climate-resilient infrastructure projects.

We also support meteorological services in the Pacific for data collection and early warning systems. There are various kinds of measures to ensure that we know what is happening and what is happening.

Meanwhile, the need to achieve net zero-emissions for us is not up for debate and we are deeply committed to it; but we are trying to encourage the global community to focus on how important it is to us given the urgent need for our region to adapt and become more climate resilient.

As Australia’s ambassador to the Holy See, have you succeeded in voicing an opinion with your government on the Vatican’s stance on climate change?

I do. I think Pope Francis is very forward-leaning and vocal and I think his recent participation at the Virtual Climate Summit in December 2020 really shows how even a small country like the Vatican can take the lead, also by committing to promoting education on integral ecology. I think it’s important and fundamental and will have a real impact all over the world, given the Catholic education systems that exist in countries like Australia. I think this will actually have the effect of driving more “from the bottom up” demand for a more climate neutral economy and other policies.

How influential is Catholic education in your part of the world?

A recent census shows that one in five children in Australia have been educated in a Catholic institution during their time in school, so that is very common. This year we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Catholic education in Australia, and it is highly respected and has a key role to play in educating our young people. This extends from child rearing to higher education, and testifies how powerful Catholic social teaching is in terms of its reach to young people.


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Australia Joins Declaration Condemning Arbitrary Detention – The Diplomat | Instant News

The Australian government last week signed a joint statement calling for an end to the arbitrary detention of citizens in state-to-state relations, following recent incidents in Iran, China, Russia and North Korea.

The declaration was led by Canada, which accuses China of arresting two Canadians, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and consultant Michael Spavor, as hostage diplomacy. Australia joins an international coalition of 57 countries following efforts to liberate its own citizens from Iran, China and Myanmar.

In a statementAustralian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the practice of arbitrary detention was against international law and Australia “will continue to work with our international partners to combat this malicious activity.”

“States must uphold all their international human rights obligations, and that includes obligations to foreign nationals and duels within their jurisdiction,” he added.

In recent weeks, Australian citizens have been detained in China and Myanmar. Australian economist Professor Sean Turnell was advising the civilian government in Myanmar at the time of the military coup earlier this month and has been in detention ever since.

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Earlier this week, concerned for the safety of Turnell, Australia’s second most senior military officer, Australian Deputy Chief of Defense David Johnson, spoke by telephone with Myanmar Senior Deputy General Soe Win. In a statement to ABCthe defense spokesman said Johnson “reaffirmed Australia’s call for Professor Sean Turnell’s immediate release.”

Rawan Arraf, principal attorney and director of the Australian Center for International Justice said it was hard to believe that Johnson had called Soe Win.

“While the US, UK and Canada imposed sanctions on the Soe Win and Tatmadaw leadership, Australia gave them credibility by holding discussions with suspected war criminals and perpetrators of genocide,” he tweeted.

Turnell’s wife, Ha Vu, write to the wife of General Min Aung Hlaing, Myanmar’s military chief, pleading, as “one wife to another wife … to talk to your husband so that my husband will return to my family in Australia.”

The day before Turnell was arrested, Chinese authorities officially arrested Australian national Cheng Lei, six months after he was first detained. Chinese authorities claim Cheng, the news anchor of China’s state-owned English-language news channel China Global Television Network, was detained “on suspicion of illegally supplying state secrets overseas,” but has not presented any evidence.

Payne said at the time that the Australian government had “raised serious concerns about Ms Cheng’s regular detention at a senior level, including about her welfare and conditions of detention.”

In September last year, Australian correspondents Bill Birtles and Mike Smith were hunted out of China after the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade warned the two Australians were at risk. Birtles said after the next five days of diplomatic stalemate, the ordeal left him feeling like a “pawn in the diplomatic tussle”.

Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an Australian academic, was released last December after more than two years in prison in Iran. The Iranians claim he is a spy, but Moore-Gilbert and the Australian government reject the allegations. Negotiations for Moore-Gilbert’s release included a prisoner swap and involved officials from Iran and Australia as well as Thailand and Israel.

The Canadian-led declaration calls for an end to such actions. It notes: “The arbitrary arrest or detention of foreign nationals to coerce action or to exert influence over a foreign government is contrary to international law, undermines international relations, and has a negative impact on foreign nationals traveling, working and living abroad. “

It is believed China arrested Kovrig and Spavor in response to the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wenzhou in Vancouver in 2018. The Chinese government has not officially responded to Canada’s declaration, but state-owned media dismissed it as an “aggressive and poorly planned attack to provoke China.”

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The detention of two Canadian citizens is just one of 152 cases of coercive diplomacy by the Chinese Communist Party in the past 10 years, according to a Australian Strategic Policy Institute report.

Co-author of the ASPI report, Emilia Currey, said the declaration as it is is a non-binding instrument and therefore has no teeth.

“A treaty based on a declaration condemning arbitrary detention would amount to coordinated joint resistance [the Chinese Communist Party] that Canada, and all other target countries needed, from the start, “he said.

Australia has been accused in the past of arbitrary detention. In 2018, the working group on arbitrary detention, which reports to the UN Human Rights Council, said Australia must immediately release refugees and asylum seekers from unlimited detention and pay them compensation and other reparations for their unlawful detention.


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Pak offers a new credit line of $ 50 million to Sri Lanka to enhance defense cooperation | Instant News

Cash-strapped Pakistan has offered Sri Lanka a new credit facility worth $ 50 million to enhance cooperation in the defense and security sector.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced a new credit limit during a two-day visit to the island nation which ended on Wednesday, according to a joint communique issued by the two countries’ foreign ministries.

“Both sides expressed satisfaction at the existing bilateral cooperation in the defense sector and noted that increased staff-level talks to the Defense Dialogue have provided a further opportunity to expand security sector ties. Prime Minister Imran Khan announced a new defense worth USD 50 million credit facility. , “said the communique.

The two sides stressed the need for a stronger partnership to support and coordinate with each other in dealing with issues related to security, terrorism, organized crime and drug and narcotics trafficking and intelligence sharing, he said.

Khan, who is the first head of state to visit Sri Lanka since the COVID-19 pandemic, met his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa during his visit where they discussed areas of common interest such as tourism, agriculture and trade relations.

“Thank you Prime Minister @PresRajapaksa and the people of Sri Lanka for your warm welcome and friendly hospitality. Sri Lanka is a special friend and strong partner. I agree that the cooperative relationship between our two countries is ready to grow and be strengthened,” Khan said in a speech. tweet.

Prime Minister Khan also reiterated Pakistan’s support for Sri Lanka’s socio-economic development in line with a vision of a peaceful environment, Colombo Page reported.

The two countries reached a broad consensus on how and means to further strengthen cooperation in a comprehensive manner and agreed to hold frequent meetings, promote high-level and delegate-level exchanges, and improve processes of consultation, cooperation and coordination between their respective agencies. , said the report.

Pakistan also announced to provide Rs 52 million for sports promotion in Sri Lanka, according to the communique.

Pakistan also announced 100 scholarships in medicine (MBBS and BDS) as part of the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Higher Education Cooperation Program, Dawn reported.

The financial woes of Pakistan’s cash-strapped economy have worsened due to the coronavirus pandemic and Khan’s government is arranging the finances of world bodies, including the International Monetary Fund, to tackle the crisis.


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Progress amidst Constraints – The Diplomat | Instant News

On 23 February, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Sri Lanka on a two-day visit at the request of the country’s prime minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Traditionally, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have had a rather close relationship. Hence, Khan was greeted with great fanfare in Sri Lanka. On arrival, he was received by his Sri Lankan counterpart and given a guard of honor. Rajapaksa continued to tweet about Khan’s visit and even shared messages in Urdu, Pakistan’s national language.

Beyond the ceremonial rave reviews, however, the visit offered little to what Islamabad could describe as a foreign policy triumph. In fact, such an attempt on the Pakistani side was tacitly rejected by Sri Lanka.

Last week, Khan planned a speech to Sri Lanka parliament suddenly canceled. This is not something that can, or should, be ignored if one were to talk about the strategic significance of the relationship. While the Sri Lankan government cites scheduling issues and COVID-19 concerns in canceling addresses, many believe that may not be the real reason.

Reportedly, the decision was taken on concerns that Khan might use the opportunity to talk about Pakistan’s bilateral dispute with India, particularly the Kashmir situation and New Delhi’s alleged expansionist regional policies. Some Sri Lankans government sources worried that Khan’s address could damage already strained relations with India after the cancellation of a major port deal.

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“Obviously there are some considerations about him either raising Muslim rights or indeed the Kashmir issue,” Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, executive director at the Colombo-based Center for Policy Alternatives, said Al Jazeera. “So, to avoid the sensitivity of India and the majority [Sri Lankan] people who were behind the cremation / burial issue, it was decided that would not happen. “

Sri Lanka remains embroiled in religious tensions in which the country’s Muslim population – who make up 10 percent of the population – have suffered at the hands of Buddhist nationalists. Sri Lanka’s Muslims have been increasingly persecuted since the current government came to power in 2019. Over the past year, Sri Lanka has carried out forced acts. cremation victims of the coronavirus, a practice prohibited by Islam. In the lead-up to Khan’s visit, the Sri Lankan government announced it was halting forced cremation people dying of COVID-19, a move only meant to calm Islamabad. While that announcement was praised by Khan, Human Rights Watch the word that forced cremations were taking place despite government guarantees.

Basically, Sri Lanka offered Khan something to tweet as he is known to be pushing back Islamophobia internationally. However, at the same time Sri Lanka took virtually another path where Khan could address the issue. For security reasons, the Sri Lankan government even refused the request 15 members of the Muslim parliament to meet Khan.

Experts have warned that Islamabad should not view Khan’s visit as more than just a bilateral one. “Pakistan and Sri Lanka have a very historic and good relationship. We played a very important role in their victory against the Tamil rebellion. Now we must not trouble our friends by being involved in other matters besides bilateral relations, ”the former Foreign Minister Riaz Khokhar told Arab News.

It is possible that the Sri Lankan government conveyed to the Pakistani leadership that Khan, during his visit, should refrain from speaking out about the widely reported plight of Muslims in the country. Moreover, any direction Khan might receive before leaving for Sri Lanka must highlight Colombia’s sensitivities that Islamabad must respect in order for bilateral relations to continue. It is not surprising that none of Khan’s statements or other official press releases touched on the matter, however hope of Sri Lankan Muslims.

The only reference to religious matters comes from Rajapaksa. In a Twitter posts, he said Sri Lanka was “grateful to Pakistan for agreeing to open a pilgrimage corridor for Sri Lanka to visit ancient Buddhist heritage sites in Pakistan.” Noting Pakistan’s cooperation to tackle militancy, he also noted “We will continue to work together to fight terrorism, religious fundamentalism and extremism.”

It is important to note here that an upcoming resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) calls for an investigation into the deteriorating conditions of human rights in Sri Lanka. UN rights head Michelle’s bachelet has requested an International Criminal Court inquiry into Sri Lanka’s military operations against Tamil separatists, which he believes amount to war crimes. The UNHRC is set to vote on a resolution in March.

Reportedly, Sri Lanka has seek Indian support at UNHRC to thwart resolution. Pakistan, which has always supported Sri Lanka in international forums, is expected to also support the Colombo case. Pakistan and India’s support in the UNHRC can assist Sri Lanka in breaking the resolution because both countries can help lobby other countries in the forum.

As such, Colombo offered a visit marked with the required pomp to Khan, but at the same time pleased India by not allowing Islamabad to use the opportunity to voice anti-India concerns. Islamabad, on the other hand, happily ignores the problem of suffering Muslims in Sri Lanka, as the country has done in the case of Uyghur Muslims in China. Ultimately, the visit highlighted only the strategic constraints in bilateral relations and Pakistan’s own foreign policy dilemma, which will continue into the years to come.


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