Australian defence chief warns of rise in ‘grey-zone activities’ in Indo-Pacific region amid China tensions

The chief of the Australian defence force, Gen Angus Campbell, has offered a gloomy assessment of developments in the Indo-Pacific region, warning of a rise in “coercive statecraft and grey-zone activities”. Ahead of a major defence review, Campbell has declared that Australia and Japan are bound together by “increasingly shared strategic challenges” in our region. “Across our region, large-scale military modernisation is accelerating,” he said, in a clear reference to China. “National sovereignty, the law of the sea, freedom of navigation are all facing challenges from both states and non-state…

Evidence grows of forced labour and slavery in production of solar panels, wind turbines

The Australian clean energy industry has warned of growing evidence linking renewable energy supply chains to modern slavery, and urged companies and governments to act to eliminate it. A report by the Clean Energy Council, representing renewable energy companies and solar installers, has called for more local renewable energy production and manufacturing and a “certificate of origin” scheme to counter concerns about slave labour in mineral extraction and manufacturing in China, Africa and South America. Released on Tuesday, the paper said slavery in all supply chains was a global problem.…

Partner of detained Australian journalist Cheng Lei hopeful of ‘compassionate and speedy resolution’

The Australian journalist detained in China, Cheng Lei, is trying to remain positive despite her “very difficult situation” and is grateful for messages of encouragement from supporters, her partner has said. Cheng’s partner, Nick Coyle, said it was positive that the Australian prime minister, the foreign minister and the deputy prime minister had all raised her case in recent talks with their Chinese counterparts. “We hope that this positive dialogue can lead towards a compassionate and speedy resolution to the current situation,” he told Guardian Australia. Asked whether he was…

Uyghurs urge Albanese government not to ignore human rights amid diplomatic thaw with China

Uyghur community members are urging the Albanese government not to sideline human rights in Australia’s diplomatic reset with China – and are disappointed to have failed to secure a meeting with the foreign minister, Penny Wong. The Germany-based president of the World Uyghur Congress, Dolkun Isa, is among a delegation that has visited Canberra this week for meetings with about 30 politicians from all sides of politics, including the opposition leader, Peter Dutton. The delegation has urged Australia to join the US and several European countries in declaring that genocide…

China human rights activist Drew Pavlou escorted from Parliament House, but federal police won’t say why

Liberal senator James Paterson said he was “concerned” that activist Drew Pavlou was escorted from Parliament House by federal police yesterday after the pair had met, but the AFP and the parliament won’t say why he was asked to leave the building. Police officers told Pavlou he was considered an “active protester”, while sitting in a public cafe in Parliament House drinking a coffee, and that “higher ups” had said they wanted him to leave the building. “An Australian federal police team interrupted me while I was quietly having lunch…

As Xi Jinping begins a third term, Australia must push to engage China on common interests | Jennifer Hsu

For Australia, everything can seem China-adjacent. But the reverse is hardly ever true. It is unlikely Xi Jinping – confirmed as China’s national leader for a historic third term this week – is up to speed with the latest developments in Australia-China relations, and perhaps not even those with the US, despite the number of recent flashpoints in bilateral relations, from Taiwan to US restrictions on technology exports to China. But China’s centralisation and consolidation of power has major implications for Australia and the rest of the world. Xi is…

Turtle concern: Australian businessman denies threatening to sell Conflict Islands to China

The owner of 21 tropical islands off the coast of Papua New Guinea says he never threatened to sell them to China and his main aim is to save the turtles that nest there. Ian Gowrie-Smith, an Australian businessman and investor, bought the Conflict Islands, which lie less than 1,000km from the Australian coast, almost two decades ago. The largely uninhabited atolls are a nesting ground for critically endangered hawksbill and green turtles, whose breeding season begins within weeks. Some then migrate to the Great Barrier Reef. Gowrie-Smith had been…

Chinese ambassador would ‘love’ to see Anthony Albanese meet Xi Jinping without preconditions

China’s ambassador to Australia has suggested the leaders of the two countries might meet without “preconditions” in remarks that could help further thaw relations. Xiao Qian on Tuesday night also offered to help detained Australian journalist Cheng Lei contact her family. In August, Xiao told the National Press Club that after a “good start” with the newly elected Albanese government “there is an opportunity for a possible reset of the relationship” between China and Australia. Since Labor’s election in May, the defence minister, Richard Marles, and the foreign minister, Penny…

When my family was reunited in Australia, I had to learn to be a dad to a son I’d never met | Sadam Abdusalam

In December 2020, I finally got what I fought so hard for: my family back. I was over the moon when I was reunited with my wife Nadila and son Lutfi after being forced apart for three and a half years. I could finally hold my baby boy in my arms – every father’s dream. I was able to go on dates with my love; watch TV and eat dinner together as a family. They may sound like simple things, but not for us. Like many Uyghurs, we had been…

Friend or foe: what world leaders think of Liz Truss

She has caused uproar by questioning whether the French president, Emmanuel Macron, is a trusted ally and pursued a policy in Northern Ireland that has upset the White House. Should Liz Truss become prime minister on 5 September, she will come with some unhelpful baggage to the top table on the international stage at a fraught time. The challenges will come thick and fast. From the war in Ukraine, the global energy crisis and the urgent calls for more and deeper action on the climate crisis, the world is looking…