‘Things aren’t going back’: Australia braces for step-up in China’s Pacific push

The Australian government is bracing for China to step up its push to expand influence in the Pacific, with a senior figure privately conceding Canberra has a lot of work to do to regain lost trust and strengthen regional unity. Despite initial relief at a decision by Pacific island countries to defer a sweeping 10-country security and economic pact proposed by China, the Australian government now believes this may be only a temporary reprieve. “Things aren’t going back to the way they were,” said a senior Australian government figure who…

Shanghai reports no new Covid cases for first time since March

China has reported no new Covid-19 infections in Shanghai for the first time since March, as the country’s latest outbreak subsides after months of lockdowns and other restrictions. China is the last major economy committed to a zero-Covid strategy, stamping out all infections with a combination of targeted lockdowns, mass testing and long quarantine periods. The economic hub of Shanghai was forced into a months-long lockdown during a Covid surge this spring driven by the fast-spreading Omicron variant. Beijing also shuttered schools and offices for weeks over a separate outbreak.…

Our global food supply is at risk when high gas prices limit the creation of fertiliser | Andrew Whitelaw

If water is the source of life, fertiliser is the source of scaleable food production. The increasing cost of fertiliser is one of the largest contributors to a “cost-price” squeeze affecting the farmers of major agricultural products in Australia and globally. The cost of food is increasing in step with the cost of producing that food and, in the past quarter in Australia, we have seen food inflation increase by 2.8% – the fourth-highest quarter since the turn of the century. The price of wheat, the main staple for much…

Chinese premier calls for more coal production as electricity demand soars

China’s premier has called for increased production of coal to stave off mass blackouts, as early summer heatwaves have prompted record electricity usage. On Friday authorities again issued high temperature warnings for about a dozen provinces across the central and northern provinces, after consecutive days in the high 30s. As people sought to escape the heat this week, state media reported that electricity demand was up 8.8% in north-west China compared with last year, and 3.2% in northern China, citing the State Grid Corp of China. Records for maximum electricity…

‘Considerable strain’: how Australian officials saw the China rift

Australian officials stayed in “regular contact” with the Chinese embassy in Canberra to “explain our decisions” even when Australian ministers were subjected to a two-year diplomatic freeze, newly released documents show. The former Morrison government had been “willing to engage with China in dialogue at any time”, according to Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade briefing notes, which also described the relationship as being under “considerable strain”. Australian government ministers were blocked from meetings or calls with their direct Chinese counterparts for more than two years, although lower-level diplomats and…

Chinese city stripped of ‘civilised’ title after attack on female diners

The northern Chinese city of Tangshan has been stripped of a national honorary title as the fallout from the assault of four women at a restaurant earlier this month continues. The civilisation office of the Communist party of China’s central committee announced on Wednesday it had decided to remove Tangshan from the list of “national civilised cities” – the highest recognition for a Chinese city. “The honour of a civilised city belongs to all citizens and cannot be smeared or desecrated,” said China City News, a news outlet under the…

Police investigated over response to attack on female diners in Tangshan

Five police officials in the northern Chinese city of Tangshan are being investigated over their handling of a vicious attack on a group of women at a restaurant. The provincial discipline commission of Hebei province said the five, including the district head of the Lubei police force, Ma Aijun, were accused of “seriously violating discipline and law”. Hebei province’s public security bureau announced separately on Tuesday that Ma’s deputy, Li, had been removed from his post. The violence against four women at a barbecue restaurant on 10 June was widely…

Russia becomes China’s top oil supplier amid Ukraine war sanctions

China’s crude oil imports from Russia soared by 55% from a year earlier to a record level in May, displacing Saudi Arabia as the top supplier, as refiners cashed in on discounted supplies amid sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. Imports of Russian oil, including supplies pumped via the east Siberia Pacific pipeline and seaborne shipments, totalled nearly 8.42m tonnes, according to data on Monday from the Chinese general administration of customs. The shipments are equivalent to almost 2m barrels per day (bpd) and up a quarter from…

China carries out anti-missile tests amid opposition to US systems in South Korea

China carried out a test of “ground-based midcourse anti-missile intercept technology” that “achieved its expected purpose”, the defence ministry in Beijing has said, describing it as defensive and not aimed at any country. Beijing has tested missile interceptors before; the most recent previous public announcement of a test was in February 2021, and before that in 2018. State media has said China has conducted anti-missile system tests since at least 2010. China has been ramping up research into all sorts of missiles, from those that can destroy satellites in space…

‘Oh my God, buy it!’ China’s livestream shopping stars risk being censored

Hua Shao stands knee-deep in water at the edge of the sea, behind a table piled high with large crabs. The famous Chinese TV host is sweaty, sunburnt and laughing with a co-host as a red-and-blue fishing boat bobs behind them. “The sea-ears taste so good, it must have been collected from a sea area where the water is very clear,” he tells more than 100,000 people who are watching online. It’s the eve of “618”, one of China’s biggest retail festivals, which are increasingly driven by the weird world…

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