Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

China’s Economy Slowed Again in November

December 14, 2018
“China won’t have double-digit growth like in the past years.”
  •  Industrial output, retail sales weaker than forecast in Nov.
  •  Communist Party to meet next week for Economic Work Conference

China’s economy slowed again in November as retail sales and industrial production weakened, creating a challenging backdrop for policy makers who gather next week to set the tone for the year at their annual Economic Work Conference in Beijing.

Image result for china, stock markets, photos
China’s stock market — FILE photo — Photograph by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images

Industrial production growth decelerated to 5.4 percent, below all 38 economists’ estimates. Retail sales — formerly a pillar of support for the economy — posted the weakest performance since May 2003, rising 8.1 percent from a year earlier . Chinese stocks fell along with the currency as data signaled a deepening slowdown.

It wasn’t all bad news though. Fixed-asset investment growth firmed, expanding 5.9 percent in the first eleven months of the year, and the surveyed jobless rate dropped marginally to 4.8 percent. That suggests stimulus to cushion the slowdown is beginning to take root.

The data point to a continuation of 2018’s targeted approach to support growth. People’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang indicated as much late Thursday, saying that monetary policy will remain supportive. Economists expect such support to involve another 200 basis points of reduction to the required reserve ratio for major banks, a measure that’s been used several times this year, according to Bloomberg survey published Friday.

“With consumers cutting back, and output sputtering, the need for stabilization measures is becoming more pressing,” said Frederic Neumann, co-head of Asian economics research at HSBC Holdings Plc in Hong Kong. “Even if the clouds on the trade front lift, at least temporarily, softening domestic demand continues to weigh on growth. Further policy easing will be necessary to arrest the slide.”

Continued Slowdown

Industrial output, retail sales expand at slowest pace for at least a decade

Note: Usually no data in January or February due to lunar new year.

Source: National Bureau of Statistics

The one-year lending rate, which has a broader influence on the economy, is forecast to remain unchanged at 4.35 percent through the first quarter of 2021, according to the Bloomberg survey, signaling that the central bank is expected to avoid adding downward pressure on the currency.

Looming over this year’s economic policy meeting is the urgency of reaching a sustainable agreement on trade with the U.S. before a deadline for higher tariffs expires on March 1. China may see the need to announce further measures aimed at answering U.S. criticism, such as steps to open up protected markets.

China’s Economic Policy Summit Nears, Overshadowed by Trade

Bloomberg’s monthly collation of early indicators correctly predicted the grim November numbers. An expected tapering of strong exports as the ‘front loading’ effect caused by the trade war fades means the first quarter is set to be challenging too.

“The worst is yet to come,” said Sue Trinh, head of Asia FX Strategy at RBC Capital Markets in Hong Kong. “Policymakers will be very worried, particularly with consumption growth falling off a cliff.”

That said, there’s increasing evidence that investment has stabilized. Manufacturing investment growth accelerated for the eighth straight month in November, with state firms leading the way. While that mightn’t be enough to brighten the current picture, it shows that stimulus measures announced during the year are having some effect.

That may encourage more, even as officials work continue to curb financial-sector risks.

What Our Economists Say…

Activity data for November show further weakening in the Chinese economy — with flagging private consumption the most worrying sign. That’s reflected in a notable slowdown in retail sales growth. Stable demand for consumer staples paired with waning demand for consumer discretionary goods suggests that the slowing economy has undermined confidence.
— Chang Shu and David Qu, Bloomberg Economics
For the full note click here

At a meeting of the Politburo led by President Xi Jinping, top leaders signaled that campaigns announced last year against financial risk, pollution and poverty will continue. The nation should further stabilize employment, finance, trade, foreign investment and boost market confidence in 2019, according to a statement published by the official Xinhua News Agency.

On Thursday, the PBOC’s Yi highlighted the balancing act that officials face — supporting growth while refraining from launching large-scale stimulus that would spur financial-sector bubbles and destabilize the economy.

“China won’t have double-digit growth like in the past years,” and it’s stayed around its potential growth rate in recent years, he said.

 Updated on 

— With assistance by Matthew Boesler, Natalie Lung, Yinan Zhao, and Kevin Hamlin



Australia to recognize Jerusalem as Israeli capital

December 11, 2018

Scott Morrison’s cabinet said to approve shift in foreign policy, while putting off relocating mission due to $200 million price tag

Newly elected leader of Australia's Liberal Party, Scott Morrison addresses media at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, August 24, 2018. (Lukas Coch/AAP Image via AP)

Newly elected leader of Australia’s Liberal Party, Scott Morrison addresses media at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, August 24, 2018. (Lukas Coch/AAP Image via AP)

The Australian government is reportedly set to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Wednesday, but will likely delay moving its embassy there from Tel Aviv due to cost concerns.

Senior government sources told The Australian newspaper that Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s cabinet approved the policy change at a national security meeting Tuesday night following extensive discussions on the matter.

Cabinet ministers agreed that moving the embassy to Jerusalem would take place at a later stage, the report said, due to the estimated $200 million it would cost to relocate the diplomatic mission.

Sources told the paper that Canberra would establish a consular office in Jerusalem until the embassy could be moved there.

The report said the decision would likely be announced during Wednesday’s Council of Australian Governments meeting.

It was not clear if the government intended to recognize the entirety of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, or just West Jerusalem, which Israel has held throughout its existence — as opposed to the eastern sectors of the city that it captured in the 1967 Six Day War.

Indonesia President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, front left, with Australia’s former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, front right, during their bilateral meeting at Our Ocean Conference in Bali, Indonesia, October 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)

In October, Morrison told reporters he was “open-minded” to following the United States in recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, in what would be a sharp break in longstanding Australian foreign policy.

The announcement was welcomed by Israel, but heavily criticized by Palestinians and a number of Muslim-majority countries in Asia, including neighboring Indonesia, with which Australia is trying to clinch a landmark free-trade deal.

Morrison at the time said that the potential recognition and relocation of the embassy would not disrupt the Indonesia trade deal or negate Canberra’s longstanding support of the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In a followup statement, Morrison’s government indicated that recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital would only extend to the western part of the city, and East Jerusalem would be designated as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Relations between Australia and the Muslim-majority Indonesia have been strained since Morrison’s announcement, with Jakarta officials initially indicating the deal may be called off over the changed foreign policy.

Izzat Abdulhadi, head of the Palestinian delegation to Canberra (YouTube screen capture)

According to The Australian, Foreign Minister Marise Payne informed Indonesian leaders of her government’s intention to recognize Jerusalem during a meeting in Bali last week.

On Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority delegation to Australia slammed the reported upcoming announcement, with envoy Izzat Abdulhadi saying his people should not have to “pay the price for some kind of face-saving move.”

In a statement to The Sydney Morning Herald, Abdulhadi rejected recognizing West Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, saying that such a compromise still “legitimize[d] the illegal occupation of Jerusalem.”

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat also harshly criticized the reported move, and called on Arab and Muslim countries to sever all diplomatic ties with Australia if it changed its policy on Jerusalem. In a tweet Tuesday morning, Erekat said that various Arab and Muslim summits have adopted resolutions committing to ending diplomatic ties with any country that recognizes Jerusalem as belonging to Israel.

Morrison’s mid-October announcement also drew criticism at home. Australia’s spy agency warned the move could could provoke further violent unrest in Israel, while opposition lawmakers accused the prime minister of cynically pandering to Jewish voters ahead of a crucial by-election.

An election poster of Liberal candidate Dave Sharma is seen on a street in the seat of Wentworth in Sydney on October 18, 2018. (Photo by Peter PARKS / AFP)

A top secret bulletin drafted by the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, obtained by The Guardian in October, said the move “may be perceived as shifting to a pro-Israel/anti-Iran stance,” and warned it could damage Australia’s diplomatic and business interests in the Islamic republic.

Morrison floated the idea of recognizing Jerusalem moving the Australian embassy there days before an October by-election in a Sydney electorate with a large Jewish population that featured his fellow party member Dave Sharma, a former ambassador to Israel.

The campaign in Wentworth drew international attention after Morrison raised the prospect of the embassy move, a remark that was slammed by critics and opposition lawmakers as a cynical attempt to pander to Jewish voters.

The government lost the by-election and its single-seat majority in the House of Representatives, forcing Morrison to rely on deals with independent lawmakers to guarantee confidence in his government, enact legislation and ensure money supply.

Huawei mistrust imperils China tech ambitions

December 11, 2018

China’s ambitious drive to dominate next-generation 5G technology faces a sudden reality check as fears spread that telecom companies like Huawei could be proxies for Beijing’s intrusive security apparatus.

Fifth-generation mobile communications are the next milestone in the digital revolution, bringing near-instantaneous connectivity and vast data capacity.

They will enable the widespread adoption of futuristic technologies such as artificial intelligence and automated cars and factories — advances China is desperate to lead.

Analysts say mounting concern over Huawei imperils its lead over the market

Analysts say mounting concern over Huawei imperils its lead over the market Analysts say mounting concern over Huawei imperils its lead over the market AFP/File

With 5G’s rollout expected to gain pace in coming years, the race to dominate standards and control security and data traffic underpins much of the current high-tech rivalry between the United States and China, technology experts said.

Huawei’s status as a leading world supplier of the backbone equipment for telecoms systems — mostly in developing markets — gives China an inside track.

But analysts said mounting concern over Huawei imperils that lead.

“This is a big threat because if Huawei loses access to lucrative Western markets, this will impact its ability to grow and finance R&D,” said Paul Triolo, a global technology policy expert with risk consultancy Eurasia Group.

It also could hinder the deployment of 5G networks in China, which are “a key piece of China’s overall effort to upgrade its industrial base”, he added.

The US defence establishment fears China’s dominance of critical 5G infrastructure could enable it to disrupt American military communications or otherwise wage asymmetrical warfare in a confrontation.

Triolo warned of potentially disastrous fallout for China if US law-enforcement efforts — in the spotlight after the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Canada — result in a ban on sales of US chips and other vital technology to Huawei.

“This could be catastrophic for China’s tech ambitions, threatening (Huawei) itself, supporting industries, and future development,” he said.

– Burglar with a key –

New Zealand recently joined Australia and the US in essentially barring use of Huawei equipment in domestic networks. Following Meng’s arrest on December 1, similar sentiments have arisen from Tokyo to Brussels.

On Monday, Kyodo news agency reported Japan’s top three telecom companies would forego equipment from Huawei and another big Chinese player, ZTE.

US officials and lawmakers have long expressed concern that China could use its tech firms to steal trade secrets — accusations Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang dismissed on Monday as “ridiculous.”

“These people do not provide a single (piece of) evidence to show how Huawei affects their national security,” Lu said.

Distrust of Huawei stems in part from the background of founder Ren Zhengfei, a 74-year-old former People’s Liberation Army engineer.

The US has already put the squeeze on ZTE, which faced insolvency earlier this year after the Trump administration temporarily banned American companies from selling it vital components.

Huawei has secured many leading 5G patents and supplied networking equipment for telecom systems around the world that will inevitably carry huge amounts of US data, putting that information at potential risk.

“One way to envision (the threat) is to imagine the person who built your house decides to burgle it,” James Lewis, a technology policy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote in an analysis last week.

“They know the layout, power system, access points, (and) may have kept a key.”

– ‘We don’t like it’ –

But US firms like Intel and Qualcomm produce the advanced chips critical for 5G, giving Washington huge sway over Huawei, which depends heavily on those technologies.

If the US cuts off Huawei’s chip supply and further isolates the company, the blow “will be huge, bigger than ZTE”, said Shi Yinhong, an expert on China-US relations at Beijing’s Renmin University.

“If Huawei is hit hard, China will lose its 5G lead.”

China observers say President Xi Jinping’s more assertive global stance bears much of the blame for Huawei’s troubles.

Late leader Deng Xiaoping famously observed that China’s strategy should be to “hide your strength, bide your time”, to avoid triggering a crippling foreign backlash.

But Xi has dumped that, accumulating one-man power, scrapping term limits and openly declaring China’s ambition to become a high-tech power.

Beijing also passed a law in 2015 obliging its corporations to aid the government on matters of national security.

These moves have sparked alarm in the West, and the US has accused Chinese entities of massive cyber-attacks.

“One of the biggest criticisms of Xi in China is: ‘did he take the stage too fast, did he try to push Chinese power too soon?'” said Christopher Balding, a China expert at Fulbright University in Saigon.

“He has behaved as near-totalitarian and is acting similarly internationally and people are saying ‘we don’t like it.'”


158 million migrants want to move to the US, world’s top pick

December 10, 2018

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The United States is the top pick – by far – for migrants seeking a new home despite reports that President Trump’s policies are scaring people away and making countries like Canada and some in Europe the preferred choice, according to a new report.

Image result for migrant caravan, waving flags, photos

Some 158 million, or a population far larger than all of Russia, want to move to the U.S., about 21 percent of all those in the world seeking a new home.

In a worldwide survey, Gallup found that 15 percent of the world, or 758 million, want to move, most for jobs.

The list:

  • 158 million chose the U.S.
  • 47 million Canada.
  • 42 million Germany.
  • 36 million France or Australia.
  • 34 million United Kingdom.
  • 24 million Saudi Arabia.
  • 21 million Spain.
  • 17 million Japan.
  • 15 million Italy.

Gallup said that the United States has been battered internationally presumably because some do not like Trump. But apparently that didn’t lessen the desire of migrants to come to the U.S.

“Although the image of U.S. leadership took a beating between 2016 and 2017, the U.S. continues to be the most desired destination country for potential migrants,” said Gallup.

It also noted that the desires expressed by potential migrants doesn’t mean the U.S. will seen a 50 percent increase in population.

“While this increase in the desire to migrate may set off alarms among those who would like to see fewer people on the move, Gallup typically finds that the percentage of those who have plans to move is much lower than the percentage who would like to move,” said the survey company.

And Trump’s immigration policies also make that unlikely, having put some limits on refugees and other immigrants.

Australia Looks to Rein in Power of Facebook and Google

December 10, 2018

Regulator says tech companies’ opaqueness could warrant establishment of a watchdog to ensure they aren’t abusing power


Image result for Facebook, google pictures

SYDNEY—Australia’s antitrust regulator called for measures to curb the influence of Facebook Inc. FB -1.58% and Alphabet Inc.’s GOOGL -2.92% Google in news and advertising and warned that a tech-sector watchdog may be needed to prevent abuses of power.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, delivering its report at the end of a yearlong inquiry into digital media, proposed changes to merger laws to protect smaller tech firms and said major companies should offer more search and browsing choices for consumers. That could have implications for Apple Inc., which offers Safari as a default on its devices.

The regulator’s report broadens the international challenges facing tech companies including Google and Facebook amid heightened scrutiny of how they handle sensitive data in other markets. Last week, the U.K. Parliament released a trove of internal Facebook emails that show Mark Zuckerberg and other executives pursuing hard-nosed tactics to stifle competitors.

One of the ACCC’s top criticisms was a lack of transparency in how tech companies use algorithms to rank online inquiries. That opaqueness could warrant the establishment of a watchdog to ensure tech companies aren’t abusing their power, the ACCC said.

Apple didn’t immediately respond to the report. A spokeswoman for Google said the report had looked at “important topics in relation to Australia’s changing media and advertising industry.” A Facebook spokesman said the company is reviewing the ACCC’s analysis and recommendations.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison set up the inquiry last year in his former role as the country’s treasurer. The probe was tasked with examining the impact of tech platforms on the loss of journalism jobs and a sharp fall in advertising dollars flowing to traditional media from $1.4 billion to $140 million between 2001 and 2016. The regulator was also asked to look into tax arrangements, amid concern of profit-shifting by overseas-based multinationals.

The ACCC said Facebook accounted for 46% of Australian display advertising revenue, including via its fast-growing photo-sharing app Instagram. Google accounted for around 94% of online searches in the country.

The ACCC report is preliminary, with a final report due after Australia holds a national election in May. It will then fall to the next government to decide whether to enact any recommendations. Still, the ACCC said it would be sharing its findings with regulators and other groups overseas, including the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Among its other recommendations, the regulator called for changes to merger law to prevent Google and Facebook using their dominance to buy up rivals. That would include an examination of whether deals would further concentrate personal data in their hands.

Tech firms passively collected data from online browsing and used it to assemble detailed profiles that could be accessed by advertisers or third parties, the inquiry found, as happened with Cambridge Analytica using Facebook data during the U.S. presidential election.

That could warrant changes to Australia’s Privacy Act to give consumers more control over their data, backed up by penalties on companies that breach the law, the ACCC said.

Write to Rob Taylor at

Tesla: Musk Doubt New Chairwoman Robyn Denholm Will Rein Him In

December 10, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk dismissed the idea that the company’s new chairwoman can exert control over his behavior.

Robyn Denholm, an Australian telecommunications executive, was appointed chairwoman of Tesla’s board last month, replacing Musk as part of as part of a securities fraud settlement with U.S. government regulators.

But Musk said “it’s not realistic” to expect Denholm to watch over his actions because he remains the electric car company’s largest shareholder.

Image result for Robyn Denholm, photos

“It’s not realistic in the sense that I am the largest shareholder in the company,” Musk said in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes,” broadcast Sunday evening. “I can just call for a shareholder vote and get anything done that I want.”

Musk, who owns about 20 percent of Tesla, gave up the chairman role under a settlement with the Securities Exchange Commission, which had charged the CEO with misleading investors in August with a tweet that said he had “funding secured” for taking the company private.

The SEC settlement also required the company to vet Musk’s tweets and other comments about the company before they are released to the public. Musk also shrugged off that provision, saying none of his tweets have been censored so far and the company does not review his posts to determine beforehand whether they could potentially affect the company’s stock price.

“I guess we might make some mistakes. Who knows?” Musk said.

Musk said he does not respect the SEC, but when asked if he would obey the settlement, he said: “Because I respect the justice system.”

Denholm’s appointment in November drew a mixed response from corporate governance experts, who praised her financial expertise but questioned her ability to carve out an independent path for a board that has been dominated by Musk.

Denholm has been on Tesla’s board for five years. She is the chief financial officer and strategy head at Telstra Corp. Ltd., Australia’s largest telecommunications company, but will step down from that company after a six-month notice period and work at Tesla full-time.

Musk told “60 Minutes” interviewer Lesley Stahl that he had hand-picked Denholm.

The SEC settlement would allow Musk to return as chairman after three years, subject to shareholder approval. Musk said he would not be interested.

“I actually prefer to have no titles at all,” Musk said.

Amid its CEO’s erratic behavior, Tesla delivered on promises to accelerate production of its pivotal Model 3 sedan, progress seen as essential to the company’s ability to repay $1.3 billion in debt due within the next six months.

The company also fulfilled a pledge to make money during the third quarter, and Musk has said he expects the company to remain profitable. He said Tesla would consider buying any plant that rival GM closes as part of a restructuring plan that could cost up to 14,000 jobs.


U.N. pact on migration is “already dead”

December 9, 2018

The global U.N. pact on migration is “dead even before it’s been signed,” Donald Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon told a gathering at the Flemish parliament in Brussels on Saturday.

Bannon spoke at the invitation of Flemish nationalist party Vlaams Belang, an anti-immigration party that has come out against the U.N. Global Compact on Migration set to be signed by national leaders in Marrakesh next week. The goal of the meeting, according to Vlaams Belang leader Tom Van Grieken, was to put the “suicidal” migration pact “where it belongs: in the trash.”

Bannon praised leaders like Trump, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who also spoke at the event, for rejecting the pact.

EU-Kommissionspräsident Jean-Claude Juncker (picture alliance/dpa/AP/V. Mayo)

Jean-Claude Juncker

“They call us racists no matter what we do,” Bannon said, according to Belgian media. “But it’s not up to workers in Hungary, France and the U.S. to resolve African problems.”

With migration still a combustible issue across the Continent, three years after the 2015 refugee crisis, far-right parties have seized on the pact ahead of next year’s European Parliament election, triggering infighting in ruling parties and governments, including in Belgium.

The right-wing New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), a member of Charles Michel’s ruling coalition, and the Vlaams Belang have refused to support the U.N. migration deal. N-VA leader Bart de Wever reiterated Saturday he did not want the government to fall, but said his party would not change its mind and endorse the U.N. pact.

Ministers are expected to meet Saturday evening to try to resolve the stand-off, Belgian media reported. A failure to resolve the dispute could cause Michel’s government, which relies on the support of the N-VA, to collapse.

Bannon has set his sights on gathering Europe’s populist parties — including Le Pen’s National Rally and the Flemish nationalists — into a pan-European movement ahead of next year’s European election.

“For the first time, it’s possible to possible to imagine an alternative to the pro-Europeans and replacing staggering leaders like Jean-Claude Juncker,” Le Pen told MPs Saturday.

See also:

Wall Street Journal: U.N. Pact on Migration Sows Dissent

Huawei dominates high-level Australia-China talks led by Howard

December 8, 2018

The Huawei controversy dominated a high-level meeting in Beijing between Australia and China, in the wake of the dramatic arrest of Huawei executive heiress Meng Wanzhou.

Former Australian prime minister John Howard meets Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi at Zhongnanhai in Beijing.


Former Australian prime minister John Howard meets Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi at Zhongnanhai in Beijing. CREDIT:SANGHEE LIU

Former prime minister John Howard led the Australian delegation at annual talks and later met with China’s most senior diplomat, Politburo member Yang Jiechi, at the Zhongnanhai leader’s compound.

Yang, a top advisor on the United States and a friend of the Bush family, noted Howard had been the Australian prime minister for 11 years and said China remembered his “important contributions to bilateral ties”.

“The continued growth of Australia China relations requires joint efforts from both sides,” he said.

Prime minister Scott Morrison – the fifth prime minister in five years – is yet to visit Beijing, but has said he wanted to emulate Howard’s approach of working with both China and the United States.

Despite the sub-zero temperatures outside Zhongnanhai’s ancient Hall of Purple Light pagoda, the mood inside the room showed a sustaining thaw in bilateral relations.

Howard told Yang in front of media cameras there had been “some good debating tussles” earlier in the day.

It is understood the topic of Huawei was raised repeatedly during the meeting between the Australian and Chinese delegations, but not in the meeting with Yang.

Australia was the first member of the Five Eyes security alliance to ban Huawei from participating in its 5G network on national security grounds, after warnings from the US.

Huawei's chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.
Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.CREDIT:AP

Meng’s arrest a week ago in Canada under an extradition request by the United States for alleged Iran sanctions violations is being viewed by Chinese media as part of an effort to contain Huawei’s global growth.

But as the trade war between China and the US worsens, Beijing has shown a willingness to repair its relationship with Australia.

Foreign minister Marise Payne and trade minister Simon Birmingham last month broke a year-long diplomatic freeze imposed by Beijing on ministerial visits to China after falling out with the Turnbull government over foreign interference legislation.

“We were able to renew the strength of the relationship today,” said Howard, who noted he had visited Beijing frequently when he was prime minister.

Howard, whose former electorate of Bennelong has a large Chinese Australian population, pointed to 1.2 million Australians of Chinese heritage, and “Chinese influence in all of our cities”, as important to the relationship.

Exports to China had helped Australia escape the Global Financial Crisis relatively unscathed, he said, and the economic relationship had since broadened from minerals to services and education.

“The relationship is in good shape but like all close relationships you’ve got to keep your friendships in good repair,” he said.

The High Level Dialogue, held each year between retired officials, business, academic and cultural figures from each country, is a more candid forum to air grievances and sticking points in the relationship than meetings of government officials – of which there have been few this year.

The delegation to Beijing included former Labor foreign minister Stephen Smith, former competition tsar Alan Fels, Jason Yat-sen Li, Australia China Council chairman and ANZ executive Warwick Smith, National Museum of Australia director Matthew Trinca, the Lowy Institute’s Richard McGregor and Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott.

Yang greeted Smith saying: “We have met before and we cooperated a lot.”

Smith was the foreign minister in the Rudd Government and dealt with China during the crisis sparked by the arrest of Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu during an iron ore pricing war between Australia and China.

Some analysts have pointed to parallels between Hu’s jailing and the arrest of Meng.


Thousands march across Australia against $2 billion Adani coal mine

December 8, 2018

Thousands of people have marched through the streets across Australia as part of protests against Adani’s Queensland coal mine.

Rallies in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns come a week after upwards of 15,000 school students demonstrated against government inaction on climate change.

It follows the announcement last month by Adani it would self-fund the controversial project after scaling back its size and scope.

Rallies in Australia’s capital cities follow Adani’s announcement last month it would self-fund the project. Photo: AAP

The coal project is being downsized from a 60-million-tonnes a year, $16.5 billion mega-mine to a more manageable 10-to-15 million tonnes a year costing around $2 billion.

“No longer will we sit back and be lectured to by people who are outdated and out of touch,” Thomas Cullen told hundreds of protesters gathered in Brisbane on Saturday.

The 17-year-old was one of the thousands of students criticised by Prime Minister Scott Morrison for skipping school to stage national strikes calling for immediate action on climate change just over a week ago.

He travelled to Canberra this week for a sit in on the marble floors of parliament to confront Mr Morrison over the issue.

“We are preparing to show our leaders that we will not stand for their inaction,” he added.

“We will strike until our leaders shape up and act.”

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All over Australia and the world, people are taking action and calling on the Australian government to put an end to the Adani mine once and for all. Follow all the events using 

School Strike 4 Climate@StrikeClimate

We have shut down Flinders St intersection in Melbourne. This inconvenience is nothing compared to the firestorms, drought, flooding and more extreme weather we can expect if we don’t #ActOnClimate NOW! #ClimateStrike #StopAdani

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April McCabe, 24, says there is a growing sense of urgency among university and high school students who want their governments to act on climate change.

The Queensland public health and global studies student says news that major works on Adani’s Carmichael mine in the state’s Galilee Basin are imminent has provoked more young people to push for change.

“It has been talked about but now people are taking action,” she said.

In Sydney, protesters carried an array of signs, such as those reading “Time for a COALonoscopy”, “There is no Planet B”, “I bet the dinosaurs thought they had time too” and “The climate is changing, why aren’t we?”.

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School Strike 4 Climate@StrikeClimate

Hey Hey! Ho Ho! Adani’s mine has got to go!

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Jean Hinchliffe, 14, said Australia’s leaders were displaying continued ignorance and had tried to disregard the student climate change protest she headed in Martin Place last Friday.

“This is something we’re not going to sit on the fence about and we’re going to keep fighting until the Labor party rule out Adani’s coal mine and all other new coal mines for good,” she said.

The vocal crowd then descended on the ALP’s headquarters, with “sit down” action planned outside deputy leader Tanya Plibersek’s office on Wednesday in the lead-up to the party’s national conference.

Adani Mining chief executive Lucas Dow last month said the Indian mining giant will self-fund the controversial project after it struggled to get external funds.


Aussie school kids lead mass coal mine protests

December 8, 2018

Australian school children led thousands of demonstrators nationwide Saturday calling for a halt on plans for Indian mining firm Adani to construct a controversial coal mine in the country’s northeast.

The rallies across major cities followed a protest last month that saw thousands of Australian students defy Prime Minister Scott Morrison and skip school to demand the government take action on climate change.

School children invited adults along to Saturday’s event, helping to boost numbers.

In November thousands of Australian students skipped school to demand the government take action on climate change

In November thousands of Australian students skipped school to demand the government take action on climate change In November thousands of Australian students skipped school to demand the government take action on climate change AFP/File

“We are taking a stand that our leaders are far too afraid to take themselves,” 14-year-old student Jean Hinchcliffe told demonstrators.

“We are the people that have been fighting and will keep fighting for a brighter future — not just for ourselves, but for our children and our children’s children’s children, and all future generations,” she added to a rapturous applause.

Indian mining firm Adani vowed last month to press ahead with the construction of a controversial coal mine in Queensland state, although the project will be dramatically scaled back from earlier plans.

Work on the Carmichael mine could get underway within weeks.

Protestors called on both the government and the opposition to put a halt to the project.

“The leaders of Australia need to start acting,” 12-year-old Sammy Lightfoot told AFP.

The prime minister last month said “kids should go to school” when asked about children missing a day in the classroom to protest.

Students on Saturday creatively rebuked the prime minister, who goes by the nickname ScoMo, taking selfies with a giant ScoMo puppet, carrying a school grade card for climate science labelled “FAIL” in red writing.

“Schoolkids are the next generation of Australia,” Lightfoot added.

“They are potentially the future leaders, so I think they should have the biggest voice and the biggest say in what their country does.”