The Chinese Ambassador to Australia is holding a rare press conference today in Canberra. It will start at 2pm, so around 10 minutes from now. We are told it will be on Xinjiang. I won't live tweet, but will post excerpts here 1/
The Ambassador, Cheng Jingye, introduces a series of officials in Xinjiang who are being beamed live into the press conference. They are sitting under a banner reading "Xinjiang is a Wonderful Land." One of the officials is Xinjiang govt spokesman Xu Guixiang 2/
Journalists were played a 10 minute long propaganda video about Xinjiang. Now they're hearing from Vice-Governor Erkin Tuniyaz. Both the Governor and the video hit very familiar themes, saying the govt maintains "ethnic harmony" in Xinjiang while cracking down on terrorism 3/
Erkin Tuniyaz gives a long speech- around 20/25 minutes. It's very similar to presentations which have been made by Chinese officials before on Xinjiang, stressing the "prosperity" and "harmony" of the region. He says media and Western politicians tells "preposterous" lies 4/
Journalists have now heard from two Xinjiang residents and an Imam who all sing the praises of the Chinese government. I do not know if this testimony is genuine or coerced. 5/
The East Turkistan Australian Association has already put out a release condemning the press conference 6/
The conference has been going for an hour now, with no opportunity for journalists to ask questions yet. But organisers have flagged that reporters will get a chance to do so before the end 7/
Worth noting-this is not an isolated event, it looks like the Chinese Government has rolled out this press campaign in at least three other countries, including the UK (HT my eagle-eyed colleague @BangXiao_) 8/…
Now questions. One journalist asks: how many people are in "re-education centres" in Xinjiang and how many are in prison? If China disputes the 1 million figure, what is the real figure? Officials do not answer the question, just repeat the one million figure is "fabricated" 9/
Second question is to the Ambassador. Journo asks a broader question about the tensions in the bilateral relationship. But Cheng says the conference is about Xinjiang, not the relationship, and does not answer 10/
Third question - why have we only heard from women in Xinjiang today, and not from men? Officials seem slightly confused by the question. They say at several press conferences they have presented testimony from both women and men 11/
Another question on the bilateral relationship. The Ambassador says Embassy has repeatedly expressed its "dismay" at Australian criticism of human rights abuses in Xinjiang. "We hope the Australian side will work together with us in the same direction" 12/
Next question is essentially - if you lie over something as routine as air pollution levels in Beijing, why should we believe what you say about Xinjiang? A flash of irritation from the Ambassador who calls the question "provocative" and says it's not based in fact 13/
So far I don't think I have heard one thing from Chinese officials which I have not heard from them before 14/

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More from @stephendziedzic

9 Dec 20
OK. India's External Affairs Minister @DrSJaishankar is about to speak to @mfullilove at @LowyInstitute and I'm going to live tweet. Please mute if you don't care about India's foreign policy (you should though you numpties, it's stupendously interesting) 1/
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8 Dec 20
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7 Dec 20
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4 Dec 20
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3 Dec 20
Right. So the Foreign Minister will soon give what has been pitched as a major foreign policy speech in the @dfat building. Diplomats from every country have been invited. US Ambassador Arthur Culvahouse Jr is here, as well as China’s Deputy Head of Mission
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3 Sep 20
There's a hearing in Canberra on Australia-Pacific Island relations. Labor MP @JulianHillMP asks @dfat officials if they agree with this study, which estimates up to 1.2 million people in the Pacific could be pushed into extreme poverty by COVID-19 1/…
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