Australian journalists forced to flee China warn political crisis worsens since 1970s


In the two weeks, leading up to the hotel's inauguration, Bill Birtles and Michael Smith still agree on the extraordinary circumstances in which Australian journalists fled China after a severe diplomatic standoff to secure their departure.


Australian journalists forced to flee China warn political crisis worsens since 1970s


One thing they believe, though, is that the ground situation in China has been getting worse over the last few years.

Birtles, an ABC reporter, said: "The China I left a few weeks ago was clearly more closed than I was five years ago, and certainly when I was before. Living around 2010, 2010 and 2011. “A program at the Louis Institute this week focused on growing tensions between Australia and its largest trading partner.

Since the end of the Cultural Revolution in the mid-1970s, we have probably seen a very ideological era. The situation in China is so dire now.

The pair shared their observations during a program entitled "Coming to an End - Broken Relations between Australia and China".

There was fresh evidence this week of strained relations with China, with state media announcing that it would ban Australian academics Clive Hamilton and Alex Joske, a researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, from visiting the country. ۔

The move comes after the Australian government revoked the visas of two Chinese experts, Chen Hong and Li Jianjun.

Hamilton, author of the 2018 book Silent Attacks in Australia: China's Influence, called the Chinese government's move "more than a symbolic act." Both he and Joske have decided in recent years that traveling to China would be too dangerous for them.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin was asked’ at a regular press briefing this week about the latest developments in strained relations.

He said that China strongly opposes the practice of using scientific studies to spread misunderstandings, deliberately attack China and endanger China's national security.

Wang said China wants a strong and stable partnership with Australia and should not be blamed’ for the current tensions.

The current strain in Sino-Australian relations has been fueled by repeated misrepresentations and actions by Australia on issues related to China's core interests, including sovereignty and territorial integrity, and non-prohibition on normal exchanges and cooperation between the two sides. Severe damage. Confidence, "Wang said.

"We urge some Australians to reject the Cold War mentality and ideological bias, to see China in a rational and rational light, to stink and shake China, and not to contradict each other, but to reciprocate." Work to increase understanding. "

Both Birtles and Smith say it is a shame that they were used’ as "pawns" in wider diplomatic tensions.

Earlier this month, the journalists fled China after taking refuge in an Australian diplomatic compound for several days, while Australian officials negotiated to allow them to leave the country.

Earlier, the Australian government advised him to leave the country, but before he could do so, he was knocked’ on the door one evening shortly after midnight. Chinese officials said they wanted to question the couple over a security issue and that a temporary ban had been imposed’ on their deportation from China.

Apparently, it was related’ to the investigation of another Australian journalist, Cheng Lei, who was arrested in August for describing China as a national security issue. Eventually, in return for their assurances, they agreed to be interviewed’ and allowed to leave the country.

Smith said the couple did not know at the time that Australian authorities had raided four Chinese journalists in June as part of an investigation into alleged foreign interference.

"There's always a tight-knit reaction," Smith said. No one told us at the time.

"Was our experience directly related to that? It seems to have to have a connection, but it's not clear yet.

He is saddened that at a time when greater understanding of China is more important than ever, there are no more Australian journalists in the country for the Australian media.

"I'm disappointed with the way I've left," Smith said.

"It feels like a real shame for journalism; it will undermine Australian understanding of China and it will not allow China to do any favors."

Kirsty Needham, a former Beijing correspondent for the Sistine Morning Herald, who now reports for Reuters from China but is based’ in Sydney, also took part in the webinar discussion.

He pointed to the role of the national security community and client advisers in some of Australia's initiatives over the years, including introducing Malcolm Turnbull's foreign intervention laws and banning Huawei from 5G networks. ۔

Smith said the Morrison government had called for a genuine international inquiry into the existence of Code 19 in April and that the relationship could be seen’ as a point of view on how the epidemic had progressed.

He said Australian businessmen in China did not agree with the principle of such an inquiry, but expressed surprise that the Australian government needed to lead such a public black.

Birtles described it as a straw that broke his back - but said that if it weren't for that, there would be other straws.

Australian barley, despite the Chinese government's subsequent trade operations on red meat and alcohol, has led Australia to believe that iron will not be’ targeted.

"It seems to me that the two sides know each other much better now, after a few years of begging," Birtles said. "It's probably going to be very rocky and not particularly friendly in the long run, and that's a new routine."


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