Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for Australia

Newsline: China’s top diplomat to visit Australia

China’s foreign minister is expected to visit Australia in July as diplomatic relations between the two trading partners stabilise, the South China Morning Post reported on Friday. The visit by the minister, Qin Gang, has not been officially announced but would take place in July, the newspaper reported, citing a source “close to the Chinese government”. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/chinese-foreign-minister-visit-australia-south-china-morning-post-2023-05-12/) The office of Australia’s foreign minister, Penny Wong, did not respond to a request for comment. Wong visited Beijing in December. Diplomatic exchanges were frozen in 2020 as China put curbs on a dozen Australian exports after it was angered by an Australian call for an international investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tension has eased since Australia elected a Labor government in May last year although there has been no change in policy on China.

Newsline: India, Australia eye top level diplomacy

Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese arrives in India on Wednesday seeking to strengthen the new momentum in ties between the two countries through deeper trade, investment and defence relations. The three-day visit by Albanese, the first by an Australian prime minister since 2017, comes days ahead of a visit by Japanese PM Fumio Kishida, another member of the so-called Quad grouping that seeks to counter China’s growing domination in the Indo-Pacific region. Quad includes the United States and India besides Australia and Japan. Australia is due to host a Quad leaders summit in Sydney later this year. “​India and Australia share warm and friendly relations based on common values and democratic principles. The Strategic Partnership between the two countries was elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in June 2020,” the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement ahead of the visit. Speaking in Sydney on Tuesday, Albanese said Australia wanted “greater diversity in who we trade with – and greater variety in what we trade, meaning our economy is more resilient and more secure”. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/india-australia-aim-boost-economic-defence-ties-first-summit-pms-2023-03-08/) The two countries signed last year a free trade agreement called the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA), the first signed by India with a developed country in a decade.

Newsline: Australia’s new U.S. envoy is expected to alter China playbook

The appointment of Kevin Rudd as Canberra’s next ambassador to the U.S. surprised few in Australia. The former two-time prime minister has maintained a public profile in both countries, thus having high chances to alter China playbook. (https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Kevin-Rudd-Australia-s-new-U.S.-envoy-will-alter-China-playbook) Kevin Rudd has cultivated a profile as an analyst and commentator to be reckoned with, especially on China and its president, Xi Jinping.

Newsline: After US, UK, Saudi and Australian embassies issue security alert in Pakistan’s Islamabad

After the United States and the United Kingdom, embassies of Saudi Arabia and Australia on Monday issued advisory to their citizens and government officials living in Pakistan’s Islamabad to “limit their movement and increase vigilance” amid the rising terror threat. Saudi Arabia has warned its nationals to “be cautious” and not step out except for emergency purposes. “Security of Islamabad has been placed at the highest level,” the advisory said. It has also asked Saudi residents in the city to contact the embassy and consulate in case of an emergency. Meanwhile, the Australian embassy has urged its people to reconsider their need to visit Pakistan. “Avoid non-essential travel. Do your research and check that your insurer will cover you. If you do travel, take extra precautions to protect yourself from security and health risks,” the Australian advisory read. (https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/world/after-us-uk-saudi-australia-issue-security-alert-for-citizens-in-pakistan-s-islamabad/ar-AA15GbTf) The development comes in connection with the suicide bombing which took place in Islamabad last week where one policeman and a taxi driver were killed.

Newsline: Top diplomats of China, Australia ministers meet to restore ties

Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong met with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing on Wednesday, following messages between the country’s leaders, as the trading partners seek to stabilise their frosty diplomatic relationship. Wong and a small delegation of officials met with Wang in the Diaoyutai state guesthouse, images released by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade showed. “We can grow our bilateral relationship and uphold both our national interests if both countries navigate our differences wisely,” she said at the beginning of the meeting. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/china-work-with-australia-promote-strategic-partnership-says-xi-jinping-2022-12-21/) The meeting followed a message from China’s President Xi Jinping sent earlier in the day to Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese promising China will work to promote a comprehensive strategic partnership, state media reported. Before meeting Wang, Wong addressed staff at the Australian embassy on a video link from Diaoyutai, where she will stay for the duration of the overnight visit as part of a so-called “closed loop” system that will isolate her and her entourage amid China’s COVID-19 outbreak.

Newsline: Former Australian Prime Minister appointed ambassador to U.S.

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has been appointed Australia’s next ambassador to the United States. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called Rudd one of the world’s most sought-after experts on China and said he would bring significant experience to the role at a time when the region was being reshaped by strategic competition. “Kevin Rudd is an outstanding appointment,” said Albanese at a news conference on Tuesday ahead of Foreign Minister Penny Wong’s state visit to China. “He brings a great deal of credit to Australia by agreeing to take up this position as a former prime minister, as a former foreign minister.” (https://neuters.de/world/former-australian-prime-minister-kevin-rudd-appointed-ambassador-us-2022-12-20/) Rudd, who speaks fluent Mandarin, has written and spoken widely on foreign relations with China since he quit politics in 2013. He completed an Oxford doctorate on the world view of China’s president, Xi Jinping, in September and heads international relations institute the Asia Society in New York. Saying he was greatly honoured, Rudd reiterated the importance of the U.S. alliance and highlighted his close personal ties with American business and political leaders after nearly a decade living and working in the country. “Our national interest continues to be served, as it has for decades past, by the deepest and most effective strategic engagement of the United States in our region,” said Rudd in a statement. Albanese said the appointment of Rudd, which follows the September appointment of former foreign minister Stephen Smith as ambassador to the United Kingdom, reflected the importance of the AUKUS nuclear submarine security deal between Australia, the U.K. and U.S. Rudd will take up his post in early 2023.

Newsline: Australia, Vanuatu top diplomats clinch security deal

Australia signed a security deal on Tuesday with the Pacific islands nation of Vanuatu, it said in a statement, amid concern over China’s military ambitions for the strategically important region. Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong is visiting Vanuatu with a bipartisan delegation, as Australia steps up its diplomacy throughout the Pacific islands after the Solomon Islands signed a security pact with Beijing in April. The security deal covers cooperation in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, policing, defence, border security, environment and resource security, cyber security and maritime and aviation safety and security, the statement said. Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister Jotham Napat told reporters on Monday the Pacific island’s new government, elected last month, has not held security discussions with China. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/australia-vanuatu-strike-security-pact-covering-policing-defence-cyber-2022-12-13/) In May, China sought but failed to reach a wider security and trade pact with 10 out of 18 Pacific island nations. Australia and New Zealand have argued security and policing needs should be met within the region.

Newsline: Vanuatu’s top diplomat calls Australia a ‘close security partner’ for region

Australia is a close security and humanitarian partner for Vanuatu and the Pacific island’s new government has not held security discussions with China, Vanuatu’s foreign minister said on Monday. Vanuatu Foreign Minister Jotham Napat told reporters in Port Vila on Monday that Australia was “a close security partner of Vanuatu and the region”, where climate change was seen as the biggest security threat. “We also took the opportunity to acknowledge Australia’s role as Vanuatu’s primary humanitarian partner due to its close proximity and through its commitment to support Vanuatu, its disaster resilience, response and recovery capabilities,” he said. He pointed to the wharf and police barracks built with Australian funding as examples of security cooperation between the two nations. Vanuatu has “not established any security agreement, we have not even discussed any matter in relation to security” with China, he told reporters in response to questions. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/australia-close-security-partner-region-vanuatu-minister-2022-12-12/) Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong is visiting Vanuatu with a bipartisan delegation to open an Australia-funded wharf at a maritime police base, and hold talks on improving work and education opportunities in Australia for Vanuatu citizens. Australia stepped up its diplomacy throughout the Pacific islands after the Solomon Islands signed a security pact with Beijing in April. China has been a significant lender for infrastructure projects in Vanuatu in recent years, building its parliament house and sporting stadiums.

Newsline: US ambassador Caroline Kennedy tells Australians “You can build nuclear subs”

US ambassador Caroline Kennedy has declared her full ­confidence in Australia’s ability to build nuclear-powered sub­marines. (https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics/you-can-build-nuclear-subs-us-ambassador-caroline-kennedy-says/news-story/) Caroline Kennedy’s backing comes as she sets out a mission to broaden and deepen the ­alliance between Canberra and Washington.

Newsline: Australian family says targeted with bomb threats amid fight with Chinese diplomat

Even if Drew Pavlou wins what he believes is a landmark case against a Chinese diplomat, the activist says it won’t stop the bomb threats. However, the human rights campaigner hopes a protection order against Xu Jie is successful, saying China’s ex-Brisbane consul-general started a brutal, systematic harassment campaign against him. “The Chinese Communist Party has been behind an extended campaign to brutally go against me and my family,” Pavlou said. “My younger brother has been targeted with bomb threats, my family have continued to be targeted with death threats, I have been assaulted multiple times on Australian streets.” (https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/queensland/pavlou-says-family-targeted-with-bomb-threats-amid-fight-with-chinese-diplomat-20221125-p5c1fh.html) Pavlou on Friday launched a Brisbane District Court appeal after his Peace and Good Behaviour Act application against Xu was dismissed in August 2020. The complaint two years ago followed a July 2019 protest at University of Queensland in which Pavlou was twice assaulted. Xu issued a press release after the confrontation, which Pavlou said incited violence against him. Pavlou was unsuccessful in court two years ago after a Brisbane magistrate ruled Xu had diplomatic immunity. However, he has launched the appeal after seeking legal advice from international experts even though Xu is no longer Brisbane consul-general or in Australia.