Helped by its massive natural resources, Australia weathered the global financial crisis better than other Group of 20 economies. 

‘Chinese diplomatic failure’ as Australia’s dovish voices fall silent
When Australia first proposed an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, which would send relations with China to their lowest ebb in years, reaction at home was mixed. Kerry Stokes, one of the country’s richest tycoons, used a front-page interview in the West Australian newspaper he owns to warn against poking “our biggest provider of income in the eye,” while mining magnate Andrew Forrest called for any investigation to be delayed. Former foreign ministers Bob Carr and Gareth Evans criticized the government for creating unnecessary tensions by turning an otherwise reasonable search for answers into a public spectacle, instead of engaging in quiet diplomacy. In t
US ‘suspected of dossier leak’ as Australia cools on Wuhan lab theory
There are signs of a growing split between Australia and the United States over an unproven theory that the coronavirus came from a Wuhan laboratory, amid claims the US embassy may have leaked a dossier linked to the allegations. According to Australian newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), Australia’s government fears the Donald Trump administration’s promotion of the lab theory could undermine its call for an independent inquiry into the origins of the pandemic and a ban on the sale of exotic live animals. “The Americans pushing the lab theory kind of discredits that initiative,” said Richard McGregor, a senior fellow at the Lowy Institute in Sydney. “It prejudges it, which in a way c
Explosive claims of ‘Chinese spy’ seem more fiction than fact
At a time when China is being systematically portrayed as a bogeyman trying to take over Australia’s political system, the emergence in October of a self-proclaimed Chinese spy claiming to have a trove of insider secrets to spill about China’s intelligence operations should have been a dream come true for Canberra’s top spooks. But instead of putting Wang Liqiang in a secure location for a thorough debriefing which could take months, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation apparently took a back seat and allowed some enthusiastic journalists to lead the investigation on what has been billed as the most significant spy defection since 1954, when a Russian KGB officer sought politica
Why politicians approach Australian-Chinese voters with caution
Asked on the campaign trail this week how Australia could balance its relations with the United States and China, Prime Minister Scott Morrison replied there was no need to choose between a “friend” and a “customer”. The remarks by the leader of the center-right Liberal Party – hoping for a return to the top office in Australia’s federal election on Saturday – tanked with Chinese-Australian social media users. The comments served to remind Chinese-Australians of how they have long been treated by Australia’s major political parties as fundraising cash cows, or as “cannon fodder” candidates for unwinnable races, said Jieh-Yung Lo, a political commentator and former deputy mayor of a Melbourne
Why Australia banned Chinese tech giants from building its 5G network
Good friends are forever, except maybe when it comes to friendships between countries. This is in part the thinking behind Australia’s move to ban two Chinese companies from building a next-generation telecommunications network in the country, according to the former Australian leader whose administration oversaw the ban. Australia banned tech giants Huawei and ZTE from its 5G network as a “hedge against adverse contingencies” in case relations with China soured in the future, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in an interview with the South China Morning Post this week. Turnbull, who was ousted as leader in August 2018, said that his government “decided not to allow 5G networks to
Beware the ‘Chinaman’ with the sausage in his briefs, says Aussie senator
What the biggest threat to Australia’s lush, diverse ecosystem? Start with the “bloody old Chinaman” with a sausage hidden in his underwear, according to Australian politician Barry O’Sullivan. The Aussie senator has been criticized for making racist comments on Tuesday in the Australian Senate during a debate about risks to the country’s agriculture and food safety. The Chinese embassy in Australia has protested the remarks as racist. And Chin Tan, the Australian Race Discrimination Commissioner, described them as “racially derogatory,” according to SBS News. The Australian senator’s racial comments come as ties are strained between the two countries, with recent contentious issues includi
An Aussie spy novelist (and ex-Chinese diplomat) is being held in Beijing
You might expect it to come from the page of one of his international spy thrillers. Australian novelist and former Chinese diplomat Yang Hengjun has been detained in Beijing for allegedly endangering state security, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Thursday. The detention of Yang, who has been critical of China in his writing, is expected to have a further chilling effect on China’s relations with Western countries. Yang, a spy novelist and online commentator and blogger, previously worked at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He became an Australian citizen in 2000. He had flown into Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport from New York last week, and was planning to take another
Are dead bodies of Chinese prisoners on show in Sydney?
Are bodies of Chinese prisoners really on show at an exhibition in Sydney? That’s what protesters claim is the case with Real Bodies, a show in the Australian city’s Byron Kennedy Hall. The show features bodies and anatomical specimens that “have been respectfully preserved to explore the complex inner workings of the human form in a refreshing and thought-provoking style,” according to the exhibition’s website. The protesters – a group of academics and human rights campaigners – are urging the boycott and closure of the exhibition, which is billed as featuring the largest collection of bodies and human specimens ever put on show in Australia. Tom Zaller, chief executive of Imagine Exhibiti
Why the Aussie defense department just banned WeChat
Australian officials are cutting ties to China’s most popular social media platform. Staff members at Australia’s Department of Defence are no longer allowed to download and use the WeChat app on their work phones. The department confirmed the ban with the Australian Financial Review, saying that it does not “provide or support the use of unauthorized software.” The department has not replied to a request for comment from Inkstone. Owned by Chinese internet conglomerate Tencent, WeChat is an all-in-one app, combining the features of Facebook and WhatsApp as well as an electronic payment system. It now has one billion monthly user accounts. Experts say it is not unusual for a defense departm