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Smartraveller upgrades China warning to include risk of ‘arbitrary detention’


Australians have been warned not to travel to China as they risk “arbitrary detention” by the Communist regime.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has issued a new warning of the risk of hostage diplomacy noting that foreigners have been detained without reason over claims they are “endangering national security.”

The official travel advice for China has not changed, but the warning over the risk that the regime could effectively arrest foreigners and take them hostage is a dramatic escalation of the content of that advice.

“China will not allow most foreigners to enter China,’’ the update warns.

“Direct flights between China and Australia have significantly reduced. If despite our advice you travel to China, you’ll be subject to 14 days mandatory quarantine. Quarantine requirements may change at short notice.

“If you’re already in China, and wish to return to Australia, we recommend you do so as soon as possible by commercial means.

“Authorities have detained foreigners because they’re ‘endangering national security’. Australians may also be at risk of arbitrary detention.

“We haven’t changed our level of advice. Do not travel to China.”

RELATED: ASIO raids MP staffer home in China probe

RELATED: China’s message in cyber attacks

The new warning follows rising tensions between China and Australia over trade and a war of words over foreign influence.

Human rights groups have previously raised concerns Sydney writer and democracy activist Yang Hengjun who is being held in China is being tortured.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne has called on China to provide more access to the jailed writer.

“Dr Yang has had no access to legal representation and has been held in harsh conditions that have been detrimental to his physical and mental health [and] we have asked repeatedly that basic international standards of justice, procedural fairness and humane treatment apply.

The new DFAT advice also follows concerns that Australian businessmen and women could run into difficulty in Hong Kong following the issuing of new national security orders.

Last year, Japanese media reported that a modern Chinese history professor from Hokkaido University was detained in China on charges of violating domestic law.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said he was arrested over a violation of domestic law, but Japanese media reports claimed the professor had been detained on suspicion of spying on the basis of the Counter-Espionage Law.

Taiwan has previously claimed that around 150 Taiwanese have disappeared in China in recent years including university professors.



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PM Scott Morrison’s warning on post-COVID world


Prime Minister Scott Morrison will warn Australians to prepare for a more “dangerous and disorderly” post-COVID world as he announces a $270 billion cash splash today on long-range maritime missiles and land strike capabilities as tensions with China intensify.

The Prime Minister will issue a blunt warning that tensions are rising across the region, citing recent border clashes between India and China and tensions in the South China Sea.

“The risk of miscalculation – and even conflict – is heightening,’’ the Prime Minister warns.

“The simple truth is this. Even as we stare down the COVID pandemic at home, we need to also prepare for a post-COVID world that is poorer, more dangerous and more disorderly.”

RELATED: Scott Morrison wants Victoria to shutdown hot spots

RELATED: What China got wrong about Australia

RELATED: 155-year-old map fuelling China-India dispute

Despite COVID-19 blowing a massive hole in the federal budget, the Prime Minister will reaffirm he will offer a 10-year funding model that goes beyond the current pledge to reach two per cent of GDP this year.

The program includes major upgrades to the Tindal RAAF base in the Northern Territory, that the PM has previously described as “the sharp end of the spear” for Australian & US air operations in the Indo-Pacific.

The Prime Minister will warn the Indo-Pacific region is the epicentre of rising strategic competition, signalling a shift in Australia’s defence focus.

“Our region will not only shape our future – increasingly it is the focus of the dominant global contest of our age,’’ Mr Morrison says.

“Tensions over territorial claims are rising across the Indo-Pacific region – as we have seen recently on the disputed border between India and China, in the South China Sea, and in the East China Sea.

While the 2016 Defence White Paper previously saw an equal weighting across three areas: Australia and its northern approaches; Southeast Asia and the Pacific; and operations in support of the rules-based global order, the new blueprint will call on the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to prioritise its geographical focus on the immediate region – from the northeast Indian Ocean, through maritime and mainland Southeast Asia to Papua New Guinea and the South West Pacific.

ANU Professor Paul Dibbs has previously flagged the $1.1 billion upgrade to the RAAF base at Tindal as pivotal, because it will lengthen the runway so that US B-52 strategic bombers as well as our own KC-30 air-to-air refuelling aircraft can operate from there.

“The second development is the announcement by the US State Department that Australia has been cleared, at a cost of about $1.4 billion, to purchase 200 AGM-158C long-range anti-ship missiles (LRASM), which can be fired from our F/A-18 Super Hornets and the F-35s when they are delivered,’’ Professor Dibb wrote.

“The significance of these two developments occurring at the same time should not be underestimated and certainly not in Beijing. Morrison described the upgrades to Tindal as being ‘the sharp end of the spear’ for Australian and US air operations in the Indo-Pacific.

As the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Peter Jennings observed, the decision to expand the Tindal air base is a giant strategic step forward and could be the basis for a greater leadership role for Australia in the region.

“When the upgrade, including major runway extensions, fuel stockpiles and engineering support, is completed, Tindal will be the most potent military base south of Guam. And — for the time being at least — it is beyond the reach of Chinese conventional ballistic missiles.”

The new defence blueprint will also increase the Australian Defence Force’s ability to influence and deny operations in the ‘grey-zone’ of intelligence and offensive cyber capabilities.

“Disinformation and foreign interference have been enabled by new and emerging technologies,’’ the Prime Minister will say.

“Relations between China and the United States are fractious as they compete for political, economic and technological supremacy.”

However, the Prime Minister will warn it is important to acknowledge that China and the US are not the only actors of consequence.

“Japan, India, the Republic of Korea, the countries of Southeast Asia, and the Pacific all have agency – choices to make and parts to play,’’ he says.

“We must be alert to the full range of current and future threats, including ones in which Australia’s security and sovereignty may be tested.

“We know what we’re about and what we stand for.

“We’re about having the freedom to live our lives as we choose — in an open and democratic society, without coercion or fear.

“We won’t surrender this – ever.”

DEFENCE SPENDING

o Information and cyber ($15 billion) – Bolster offensive and defensive cyber capabilities, enhance electronic warfare and command and control systems and improve intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems. Between $1.9 to $3 billion in offence defensive and offensive cyber operations and to counter cyber-attacks on Australia, Defence and deployed forces. Between $3.3 to $5 billion for strengthen Defence’s network resilience from malicious actors. Between $2 to $3 billion in signals intelligence systems and expanding and upgrading systems for delivering top secret information and communications to strengthen Defence’s warfighting capability

o Maritime ($75 billion) – Expanded maritime force to provide greater capability for anti-submarine warfare, sealift, border security, maritime patrol, aerial warfare, area denial and undersea warfare. Between $168 to $183 billion for the acquisition or upgrade of navy and Army maritime vessels out to the 2050s. Between $5 to $7 billion in undersea surveillance systems. Between $400 to $500 million in long range Maritime Strike missiles.

o Air ($65 billion) – Expanded air combat and mobility and new long range weapons and remotely piloted and autonomous systems will be introduced. Between $10 to $17 billion investment in fighter aircraft. Between $700 million to $1 billion for Operational Radar Network expansion. Between $3.4 billion to $5.2 billion to improve air launched strike capability. Between $6.2 to $9.3 billion in research and development in high speed long range strike, including hypersonic research to inform future investments Between $7.4 to $11 billion for remotely-piloted and autonomous combat aircraft, including air teaming vehicles.

o Space ($7 billion) – Investment to improve resilience and self-reliance of Defence’s space capabilities, including to assure access to capabilities, enable situational awareness and deliver real-time communications and position, navigation and timing. Between $4.6 to $6.9 billion in upgrades and future satellite communications systems, including communications satellites and ground control stations under sovereign Australian control. Between $1.3 to $2 billion to build our Space Situational Awareness capabilities.

o Land ($55 billion) – Investment to ensure land forces have more combat power, are better connected, protected and integrated with each other and with our partners. Between $7.4 to $11.1 billion on future autonomous vehicles. Between $7.7 to $11.5 billion for long range rocket fires and artillery systems including two regiments of self-propelled howitzers. Between $1.4 to $2.1 billion for Army watercraft including up to 12 riverine patrol craft and several amphibious vessels of up to 2,000 tonnes to enhance ADF amphibious lift capacity.

o Defence Enterprise ($50 billion) – Investment key infrastructure, ICT, innovation and science and Technology programs critical to the generation of Defence capabilities. Between $6.8 to $10.2 billion in undersea warfare facilities and infrastructure. Between $4.3 to $6.5 billion to enhance Air Force’s operational effectiveness and capacity in the Northern Territory. Between $900 million to $1.3 billion to upgrade key ports and infrastructure to support Australia’s larger fleet of amphibious vessels. Between $20.3 to $30 billion to increase the supply of munitions and between $1 to $1.5 billion to explore expanding industry capacity for domestic guided weapons and explosive ordnance production capability.



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Local News - Victoria

Victoria COVID-19 case spike sparks warning over school holidays


Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the schools had already closed for the holidays and were being deep cleaned.

“Those schools are already closed and those schools will be thoroughly cleaned and there will be contact tracing involving both staff and students,” Ms Mikakos said.

Monday’s increase is the fourth-largest number of confirmed new cases in the state since the start of the pandemic.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton warned that he expected to see numbers continue to rise in the next few days, but said that the start of school holidays provided a welcome chance to limit community transmissions.

“I think it’ll get worse before it gets better,” Professor Sutton said. “It is a concerning number but it’s very difficult to make predictions in this space.”

Schools closed for a two-week break on Friday, after reopening for all students on May 26 following several weeks of remote learning.

Professor Sutton said the start of holidays was “fortuitous” in trying to contain the spread but urged parents to limit their children’s movements and social interactions.

“I do hope all of the families that have children home are bearing in mind the message to stay home,” he said.

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Professor Sutton said students have been getting infected in family settings and then bringing the virus to school.

“As individual cases we weren’t seeing transmission in schools at all, but we were seeing lots of cases because lots of kids and teenagers were getting infected.

“And so of course they were going to school during the term.”

He said it was possible Victoria was experiencing a second wave of COVID-19, with the number of new cases now rivalling the initial outbreak in size.

“Whatever you call it, it’s as big as the first one, it’s looking that way,” he said.

“We’ve got significant risk of transmission from all of those newly diagnosed individuals.”

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Morrison’s China warning after Shaoquett Moselmane’s home raided


A major investigation into an alleged espionage plot to infiltrate Australian politics is continuing, with ASIO raiding the home of a political staffer.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday warned foreign powers, including China, that he “won’t cop” attempts to influence politics.

“We won’t cop anyone coming and seeking to interfere in our political system, in our energy sector, in any area of perceived opportunity for an outside actor,’’ Mr Morrison said in the wake of searches targeting NSW Labor MP Shaoquett Moselmane.

“We won’t cop it. We are a resilient people. We will stand up to it. And we will take action, as what you’ve seen today demonstrates.”

Raids of Moselmane’s house continued into the night, with The Daily Telegraph reporting the MP eventually returned at 8.30pm after spending 12 hours at Parliament House under police guard.

Sources told the newspaper the investigation is “ongoing” and has widened to include Moselmane’s staffer John Zhang, who was last year revealed to have taken part in a Beijing propaganda course run by the Chinese Communist Party in 2013.

It’s reported Zhang’s business and residence were searched by ASIO officers.

Describing the matters under investigation by ASIO as “serious” Mr Morrison said the ASIO raids targeting Mr Moselmane underlined the threat of foreign influence operations.

The Prime Minister said the investigation was being pursued by the task force the Morrison Government established, which became operational last December.

“The details of that, I’m not at liberty to go into as I’m sure you’d expect but it’s been investigation that has been going on for some time. It’s taken — it’s elevated to a new level today,’’ he said.

“I think — the actions of the Australian Federal Police and ASIO demonstrate that the threats in this area are real. The need to take action is necessary and the Government is absolutely determined to ensure that nobody interferes with Australia’s activities.

“They’re extremely serious. The actions taken by ASIO and the AFP demonstrate that seriousness.

“I was briefed on these matters last night and advised that they would be taking these actions. These are matters that I’m also aware of have been under investigation for some time.”

The Australian Federal Police raided properties on Friday morning linked to Mr Moselmane, who made bizarre comments over China and COVID-19.

In a statement, the spy agency confirmed the AFP raids were part of an ASIO operation.

It is believed the investigation relates to Chinese foreign influence in Australia.

“ASIO can confirm that search warrant activity is occurring in Sydney this morning as part of an ongoing investigation,’’ a spokesman said.

“This activity does not relate to any specific threat to the community. While this activity occurs it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

Mr Moselmane’s Rockdale house in Sydney’s south was searched by AFP officers.

NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay said on Friday the process to suspend his membership of NSW Labor was underway.

She also confirmed that Mr Moselmane would no longer sit in the parliamentary caucus.

“It’s dreadfully concerning, it’s terrible,” she said.

Mr Moselmane in April stood down as assistant president of the NSW upper house after praising Chinese President Xi Jinping’s response to COVID and claiming it had not spread “very far”.

Mr Moselmane has previously praised China’s “tough, unswerving leadership” on COVID-19.

“For the People’s Republic of China, President Xi stepped up and provided that leadership. He mustered the resources of the nation and together with the great people of China – fought it and contained it,” he said.

“Failure to contain the epidemic could mean thousands if not hundreds of thousands of lives would be lost. The combined phenomenal effort of the state and the people in the fight to contain the virus was breathtaking.

Ms McKay said the raids were “a shock” to NSW Labor. She also confirmed a staffer in the office might be a person of interest to the investigation.

“I was advised earlier this morning that there had been search warrants executed on the home and the office of Mr Moselmane,’’ she said.

“I have asked the general secretary of the party to begin suspending his membership of the Labor Party. It is the right thing to do. He will no longer sit in the caucus, he will no longer be a Labor Party member. His membership is being suspended as we speak, that process is now under way.

“I believe there was one other person of interest that was a staff member, but we are trying to work out if he is actually a member of the Labor Party. If he is he will be suspended as well, but as I said this is happening as we speak.”



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Coronavirus Australia update: NSW treasurer to issue stark warning as Queensland border war returns to court – politics live | Australia news


The ASX is set for big early gains following Wall Street’s enthusiasm over the Federal Reserve’s plan to buy individual corporate bonds to help prop up the economy.

The local SPI 200 futures contract was higher by 141 points, or 2.46 per cent, to 5,876.0 at 0800 AEST on Tuesday.

The Federal Reserve’s purchases will be part of its $US1 trillion ($A1.5 trillion) bond-buying program to keep lending markets running smoothly, which allows big employers to easily access cash.

They are also the latest reminder the US central bank is doing everything it can to support markets during the coronavirus pandemic, analysts say.

The S&P 500 rose 25.28 points to finish at 3,066.59 – 9.4 per cent below its record set in February.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 157.62 points, or 0.6 per cent, to finish at 25,763.16. The Nasdaq composite added 137.21, or 1.4 per cent, to 9,726.02.

In Australia on Tuesday, the Reserve Bank’s June board meeting minutes will be published.

Economists will be looking for any comments about the Aussie dollar’s recent surge and the expected timing of economic recovery.



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The Broncos’ shameful loss at an empty Lang Park is a warning for AFL clubs ahead of restart


What relevance did the Brisbane Broncos’ humiliating 59-0 defeat to the Sydney Roosters last Thursday have to those AFL fans contemplating the start to their own season?

The AFL boasts it is the largest and most vocal spectator competition in the country.

But across several decades Lang Park crowds have regularly matched the AFL throngs in their size and their volume.

So while the depleted Broncos’ defeat to the red-hot Roosters was itself unsurprising, it is difficult to imagine any Broncos team allowing itself to be subjected to such a humiliating scoreline in front of its passionate home crowd.

Surely pride, dignity and the mere thought of that walk of shame back to the sheds with the jeers of the hometown fans in their faces would have been enough to ensure a far more respectable defeat.

As it was, even allowing for the pattern of NRL blowouts since the “six again” rule was imposed, the Broncos’ almost unfeasibly lifeless performance in their abandoned fortress was the most compelling evidence so far for those who believe the absence of fans can have an impact on the game itself.

Accordingly, the Broncos’ lame performance hints at a changed dynamic in AFL games without the packed houses we assume have a marked influence on the players, and the significant reduction of traditional home ground advantage.

AFL player grips ball in one hand while sticking his arm out to keep away from an opposition tackle.
Debate continues about whether the modern game is superior to other eras in the AFL.(AAP: Michael Dodge)

There has already been one round of AFL games played without crowds to provide some impression of how empty grandstands would affect games. The season began on Thursday, March 19, with forlorn images of an empty MCG and ended on a sombre Sunday with the three matches overshadowed by speculation, and then the official announcement, that the season had been suspended.

Since then we have had toilet paper wars, Zoom conferences, elbow taps, TikTok videos, the Last Dance, even more Zoom conferences, sour dough, the cancellation of local sport and the launch of V’landysball.

From vague memory, the most valuable lesson to be drawn from that long-ago opening round was for the TV producers who soon discovered the wide shots of an empty MCG created a forlorn, even maudlin scene.

Cameras revealing that the Richmond-Carlton “blockbuster” was being played before a Sheffield Shield-sized crowd displayed good news values but the sight of the rows of empty seats somehow sucked the energy from the game unfolding before us.

You can expect much tighter shots on the play upon resumption, with the cameras only straying from the action to catch glimpses of the advertising hoardings, the coaches in their boxes and, perhaps, the occupants of corporate entertaining areas.

Nine and Fox Sport’s use of fake crowd noises has been received well by AFL observers, another win for V’landysball, and you can expect a similar aural intrusion when Richmond plays Collingwood on Thursday night —although, hopefully, one more like the low crowd murmur used by Nine’s NRL coverage that merely disguises the lack of real crowd noise, rather than the faked excitement of Fox Sports that unintentionally reminds viewers the only faces in the crowd are made of cardboard.

But these feats of TV production sorcery are exclusively for the benefit of home viewers deprived of their customary seats in the grandstand.

What remains to be seen is how greatly the games themselves are shaped, even perverted, by the most significant changes required to reboot the season.

West Coast Eagles midfielder Luke Shuey, with his back turned, is hugged by teammate Elliot Yeo after scoring a goal.
Of the flag contenders, the Eagles might be hardest hit by the competition revamp.(AAP: Richard Wainwright)

Of the teams in premiership contention, the West Coast Eagles’ season seems the most greatly jeopardised by the restrictions imposed to get on the field — or, should they somehow push through unhindered, the team whose resilience would make a premiership a memorable, even historic achievement.

In the first instance, the Eagles have been forced to travel to the Gold Coast to be quarantined in a hub while other premiership contenders enjoy the comforts of home.

Then, even if the WA borders reopen and the Eagles can fly home, they are likely to be deprived of the raucous support of Australia’s most boisterous crowd for the remainder of the season while still traveling regularly. As significantly, the intimidation factor for teams travelling to Perth Stadium would be greatly reduced.

So, if the Broncos’ capitulation was the first compelling demonstration in Australian sport of how removing the inspirational or even shaming nature of a passionate crowd can have impact on performance, the Eagles will provide another great case study.

Another intriguing AFL crowd dynamic will occur at Geelong’s Kardinia Park, where the Cats host Hawthorn on Friday night in a game that would normally be played at the much larger and notionally neutral MCG.

Do the familiar dimensions of the smaller ground upon which the Cats train enhance their seeming edge in personnel? Or does the lack of vocal support diminish the home ground advantage they have been given?

By the end of this bizarre season the AFL’s one million paid-up members might, in their absence, have a better idea if they have been integral to their club’s success or merely noisy observers.



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Chinese Australians caught in the crossfire from Beijing’s Australian travel warning


As Canberra determines its next steps regarding Beijing’s warning against travel to Australia, so too are the Chinese-Australian diaspora, who may be unduly affected by the move’s diplomatic fallout.

On Saturday, the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued an alert warning against travel to Australia, citing a “significant increase” in racist attacks on “Chinese and Asian people”.

“The Ministry of Culture and Tourism reminds Chinese tourists to enhance their safety awareness and do not travel to Australia”.

The move comes weeks after China imposed high tariffs on Australian barley and banned four abattoirs representing 35 per cent of Australia’s Chinese beef exports, a decision some say is a consequence of Canberra’s deteriorating relations with Beijing.

While the Morrison Government resoundingly dismissed Beijing’s warning, anecdotal evidence disclosed to the ABC has shown there has been a spike in racist attacks toward people of East Asian appearance during the coronavirus pandemic.

This has ranged from Asian migrants being evicted for fears of spreading coronavirus, to high-profile acts of vandalism including racist attacks on a Chinese-Australian family’s home happening three times in one week in April.

However, official data from national and state bodies designed to capture instances of racist discrimination do not reflect anecdotal evidence — a disconnect the bodies themselves have suggested may be to do with unfamiliarity or fear of reporting racist incidents.

However, amid this context, some members of Australia’s Chinese diaspora have told the ABC that Beijing’s blanket warning may end up doing more harm than good.

One Chinese-Australian tourism operator, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to the ABC for fear of reprisals from Beijing, echoed this sentiment.

“I don’t think this is a very sensible approach,” the operator said.

‘Tourism has been politicised’

A group of Chinese tourists jump as a photo is taken on a Gold Coast beach
The Gold Coast was most-cited as the place to consider visiting by China’s high-value tourists.(Supplied: Tourism and Events Queensland)

Data from Tourism Australia shows that in 2019, Chinese nationals made up the country’s largest inbound market for visitor arrivals, total spend, and overnight stays — a fact that mirrors the Australian economy’s high dependence on China.

More than 1.2 million Chinese tourists visited Australia last year, spending $12.4 billion in total — averaging about $9,336 spend per trip or $215 per night.

Of this group, 57 per cent were returning visitors.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) last financial year also found that Chinese visitors were the largest group of short-term visitors (visits of less than one year) to Australia, sitting around 1.4 million.

“I didn’t feel at all the situation is as serious as [the travel warning],” the tourism operator said.

The operator’s claim is something that’s backed up by Tourism Australia’s Consumer Demand Project, which refers to the organisation’s annual research that analyses why visitors pick Australia as a destination.

Research from 2019 on Chinese “high-value travellers” (HVTs) — tourists who spend higher than average and are knowledgeable about their destinations — found that the second-largest driver for travel to Australia from this group was because the country was considered a “safe and friendly place to visit”.

Sitting above safety was Australia’s “activities and attractions”.

Chinese visitors queue in front of luxury store Louis Vuitton.
Tourism Australia found that Chinese HVTs spend more than two-to-three times the average traveller.(Reuters: Bobby Yip)

Songshan Huang, a professor of tourism from Perth’s Edith Cowan University, said “the future looks very bad for Australian tourism” in light of Beijing’s decision.

The professor, who previously worked at China’s National Tourism Administration for several years, cautioned that Chinese tourists “value government perceptions about the relationship between countries”, which may have detrimental consequences for the Australian industry.

“Some official political stands at the national level will affect the perception and attitude of Chinese citizens,” Professor Huang said.

A continuation of punishment

Chinese flags with Australian flag in the background
Australia’s bilateral relationship with China has soured over the past decade.

Yesterday, Australian Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said the Chinese Government’s advisory had “no basis in fact”.

He also claimed Australia was “the most successful multicultural and migrant society in the world”.

But regardless of what Beijing or Canberra say, global travel will remain ground to a halt for the time being because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tourists take photos from the Wineglass Bay lookout
Tasmania recorded a surge in tourists from China following a visit from Chinese President Xi Jinping.(ABC News: David Hudspeth)

Because of this context, Jie Chen, a China expert at the University of Western Australia, said Beijing’s decision was actually designed for diplomatic damage rather than to have immediate consequences.

“I would say this is really a continuation of the earlier attempt to punish Australia, such as the high tariffs imposed on barley and ban on four abattoirs stores,” Dr Chen said.

He also said the weekend release of China’s travel warning suggested that Beijing was hoping to capitalise on Australia’s nationwide protests against Indigenous deaths in custody in solidarity with the US Black Lives Matter movement, to drum up fears over safety.

But Dr Chen noted that many Chinese-Australians were also participants in the protests, and suggested Beijing’s decision appeared more like propaganda.

“I would say the silent majority of [Chinese] tourists would still come here”.

‘More discrimination in China’

From a low angle you look up at two police officers on a motorcycle as it drives past a sanitizing vehicle spouting disinfectant
Chinese nationals told the ABC they felt discrimination more severely in China.(Reuters via China Daily)

Emily Sun, a Chinese-born resident of Sydney, shared similar sentiments to that of Dr Chen, telling the ABC that Beijing’s alert made her peers unnecessarily “angry”.

“People who do not usually express their opinions, or those who do not care about politics, are all very angry,” Ms Sun said.

Ms Sun added that her friends felt the spectre of discrimination more strongly in China than they did in Australia, especially regarding regional and economic discrimination, as well as the Central Government’s household registration system.

The system, officially known as hukou, actively hinders where Chinese people choose to live, which has traditionally prevented people from making a permanent move from the regions to cities.

Similarly, in China’s semi-autonomous territory of Xinjiang, the region’s Muslim ethnic minority Uyghurs have been found to be routinely discriminated against on a grand scale, which includes widespread surveillance and bars on travel outside of the territory.

At least 1 million Uyghurs are being held in detention, which has been labelled the largest internment of people on the basis of religion since the Holocaust.

When asked about the spate of coronavirus-triggered racist incidents in Australia, Ms Sun said this wasn’t the norm.



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Local News - Victoria

Thousands defy COVID-19 warning to march in Melbourne


The protesters, nearly all wearing masks and demanding an end to Aboriginal deaths in custody, gathered at State Parliament at 2pm to listen to Indigenous speakers who said outrage over a police officer’s suffocation of Mr Floyd over nearly nine minutes had finally put the spotlight on what they called Australia’s own systemic racism.

The crowd then marched through the city to Flinders Street Station for more speeches before dispersing peacefully at about 5pm.

Protesters outside Flinders Street Station.

Protesters outside Flinders Street Station.Credit:Chris Hopkins

In Sydney, where the NSW government obtained a court order banning the march that was overturned in a last-minute appeal, about 10,000 people surged through the city’s CBD. In Brisbane, another 10,000 protesters gathered, while 5000 marched through Adelaide.

The Melbourne event, which passed without any arrests amid a heavy police presence, came after Victorian health authorities reported no new infections of COVID-19 overnight, the first day of zero new cases recorded in the state since March 5.

Professor Sutton welcomed the news but warned people in Melbourne’s north and west, where most of the state’s recent new cases have been found, to be especially vigilant.

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“This indicates there is on-going community transmission in these areas, although it appears to be at low levels,” he said.

Professor Sutton’s message, issued as the rally in the CBD got under way, also urged people to stay away from the event.

“I know there are many people wanting to protest in person this weekend and show their support,” he said.

“Unfortunately now is not the time for thousands of people to gather together, putting yours and others’ health at risk.”

The Australian protests also defied warnings from Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Brendan Murphy who said he was worried about the large number of Indigenous Australians attending the events and the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak in a first nations community.

The Black Lives Matter rally Melbourne.

The Black Lives Matter rally Melbourne.Credit:Joe Armao

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius said he was pleased with the crowd’s peaceful behaviour, but he was worried that people had gathered in such large numbers in breach of the State of Emergency rules and in defiance of warnings to stay away.

“While the Black Lives Matter protest was held in breach of the Chief Health Officer directions, police were generally pleased with the behaviour of those who came into the city to protest today,” he said.

“We remain concerned that such a large gathering has occurred without regard for the need to maintain social distance and will now consider what action should be taken in relation to the organisation and conduct of this unlawful gathering.”

Protesters in Melbourne.

Protesters in Melbourne.Credit:Chris Hopkins

The senior officer said police were not aware of any acts of violence or vandalism but that “police will continue to investigate the events of today to determine whether any further follow up enforcement activity is required”.

Most of the speeches focused on the 432 Aboriginal deaths in custody in the three decades since the 1991 findings of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

Indigenous protesters do a traditional dance on Bourke Street.

Indigenous protesters do a traditional dance on Bourke Street.Credit:Chris Hopkins

Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance organised the protest, with one member of the group, Meriki Onus, a Gunnai and Gunditjmara woman, thanking the crowd for their attendance.

“We pulled this together in five days,” she said.

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Among those out on Melbourne’s streets was 70-year-old Aunty Shirley Blackwood – a member of the Stolen Generation taken from her parents as a three-year-old – who described the rally as “the best one ever”.

The issue of Aboriginal deaths in custody is close to home for Aunty Shirley.

Her cousin was Tanya Day, the Yorta Yorta woman who died in a police cell in 2017 after being taken from a train intoxicated at Castlemaine in central Victoria.

Ms Day was arrested for public drunkenness, an offence that is soon to be abolished in Victoria.

“That was disgusting how they just threw her in jail,” she said.

She said ongoing deaths in custody in Australia was intolerable.

“This has got to stop, you’ve got to respect us,” she said.

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Western Force signs on as one of five Australian Super Rugby teams for planned 2020 season, but owner Andrew Forrest sounds warning note



Rugby Australia has confirmed the Western Force will return to Super Rugby as part of an Australian-based competition, which could get underway in five weeks’ time.

The full Super Rugby season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, after New Zealand’s introduction of 14-day self-isolation for all people entering the country made the existing tournament untenable.

Earlier this month Rugby Australia indicated its plan was for an interim Australian-only competition.

On Wednesday, RA confirmed that plan.

Interim RA chief executive Rob Clarke said the intention was to run the Super Rugby season from July 3 to September 19, with a round-robin format, but said that finalising the details had to wait for discussions with broadcasters.

“We are very pleased that Western Force has come on board for Super Rugby AU and we look forward to releasing the final elements of the competition, including the season draw in due course,” he said.

“We remain in dialogue with [Japan’s] Sunwolves around their potential involvement in the competition.

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“But now we know that we have at least five teams secured, and will continue our discussions with Fox Sports and our commercial partners over the coming days.”

Western Force was cut from the competition — which at that point involved Australian, New Zealand and South African sides — at the end of 2017.

Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan welcomed the return of the Western Force, owned by mining magnate Andrew Forrest, calling it a “great story”.

“We are grateful for Andrew Forrest’s support and understand that decisions made by Rugby Australia in 2017 were painful for sports fans in Western Australia and the Force players, and we are sorry that they haven’t been able to share in the rivalry against their fellow Australian teams,” McLennan said.

In a statement, Mr Forrest confirmed his club was in, but indicated that Rugby Australia would need to make changes for the Force to be involved long-term.

“I want what is best for rugby in Perth and in Australia and to ensure the game flourishes,” he said.

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“My views on the mismanagement of the game under the previous Rugby Australia administration are well known and remain steadfast. Change is imperative at the top for rugby to thrive long term.

“I developed and launched Global Rapid Rugby across the Asia-Pacific region to prove how rugby can be played — fun for the players, fast-moving, high-scoring and always entertaining.

“The Australian sporting public deserves to see more of that style of rugby. A game which keeps up with the times and is not mired in a myriad of laws.

“A game which returns rugby to its former national prominence and international appeal. A game that will be embraced by the Asia-Pacific region as relevant, culture-strengthening and entertaining.

“Until I see evidence that reinvention is at the core of any strategic plan RA comes up with, it will be difficult to commit to a long-term investment.”



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WHO issues stark warning, says COVID-19 is ‘on the way up’; Global virus cases surpass 5.5 million


“The protections have been designed to prevent an outbreak so that likelihood of infection passing around the floor is greatly diminished.”

The 100 or so traders, regulatory, and operational staff – about a quarter of the usual number – who headed into the building in lower Manhattan were asked to avoid public transportation and were screened for signs of the virus at the door, where they also had to sign a liability waiver.

New York City has been hit hard, with more than 20,000 deaths from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, and many businesses remain closed as the most populated US city remains under lockdown.

“As trading on this iconic floor recommences, New York is showing the nation that we will lead the lead way,” Cuomo said.

Reuters



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