Stephen Dziedzic Profile picture
Foreign Affairs (Asia Pacific) reporter, Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Based in Parliament House, Canberra. Previously Delhi, Singapore.
7 Apr
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/
Read 14 tweets
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/
Jaishankar was previously the head of MEA (comparable to @dfat Secretary) before becoming Minister. Fullilove asks which job is more satisfying. Jaishankar doesn't quite answer but says the ministerial role gave him a "broader" view of both domestic and international politics 2/
Now to Jaishankar's new book "The India Way." He says the core ideas he's exploring in the book are "multi-polarity and re-balancing." A "new architecture" is being built as power shifts. But countries are now far more interdependent. This creates "constrained competition" 3/
Read 17 tweets
8 Dec 20
Right. We're back onto the Senate debate over the foreign relations bill. The lower house has rejected a Senate amendment which would subject ministerial decisions to judicial review. Now we'll get another vote in the Senate 1/
Looks like Jacqui Lambie has switched her vote, so the Govt has the numbers to pass the foreign relations laws in full. Labor will continue to vote in favor of the judicial review mechanism but seems likely to lose the vote (if those numbers hold) 2/
And that's done. Govt wins the vote, so the Senate does not insist on its judicial review amendment. It hits the cutting room floor. Full laws now passed. In quick time too: the bill was first proposed only in August. Quite a significant shift in policy in only a few months
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7 Dec 20
Contributions to the China debate from @DaveSharma + @TimWattsMP Both have written briefs for @ChinaMattersAUS Sharma says Aust should remain "resolved and patient." Also says security agencies should recruit more Chinese Australians which means overhauling security clearances 1/
Sharma says the Islamic community in Australia has been a "great resource" when it comes to fighting attempts by Islamic State to radicalise citizens - "we need to have the same level of cooperation with Australia's Chinese communities" 2/
Sharma says Taiwan should be invited to join the CPTPP. He also wants Australia to try and coax the Biden Administration back in 3/
Read 6 tweets
4 Dec 20
Thread. I briefly interviewed China's Deputy head of mission Wang Xining on his way out of the @MarisePayne speech. Some interesting elements. The Deputy suggested the PM over-reacted by responding so angrily to the tweet by @zlj517 1/
When asked about the barrage of attacks on Australia in state media Wang Xining denies those outlets are "manipulated" by the state and suggests they just reflect the anger of Chinese people. Yes, the first claim is patently false (though the anger towards Aus might be real) 2/
When asked about the notorious "14 grievances" from the Chinese Embassy Wang Xining attacks the Australian media, saying the way the list was presented was a "media concoction." He says it is not a definitive list of demands, "just some examples of what we disagree with" 3/
Read 7 tweets
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
Payne says Australia has “agency and influence” in the emerging era of strategic competition. She stresses the existing order is not static but says changes should be negotiated through discussion, not the use of power 2/
Payne stresses the importance of regional powers like Indonesia, Japan, India. Gently chides media and commentariat for focussing solely on the contest between the US and China. Says Australia has a vision for the region which is “open” and “inclusive” 3/
Read 8 tweets
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/…
Grim. Officials from @dfat so that analysis is "pretty solid" and "realistic" although it will depend on how governments and donors respond to the crisis. 2/
Now @dfat is asked about the 300 million dollar loan Australia made to PNG. Officials confirm we have suspended repayments, with repayment of the principle delayed until 2024 3/
Read 15 tweets
2 Sep 20
The @dfat Secretary Frances Adamson and the @CDF_Aust are both speaking on "the nature and relationship of diplomacy and security" during the pandemic. Will live tweet. 1/
Adamson says covid-19 has catalysed a "re-think" of how the Department works 2/
Adamson runs through all the things @dfat has done during the pandemic, including sourcing ventilators and "vital supplies of personal protective equipment to keep Australians safe: 30 million gloves, 1 million pairs of goggles, and 200,000 surgical gowns" 3/
Read 9 tweets
27 Aug 20
Right. I'm going to live tweet (slightly delayed) the address by Taiwan's President @iingwen to @ASPI_org Should be interesting! 1/
Tsai says the relationship between Taiwan and Australia has grown closer. Both are pursuing "an increased number of issues and opportunities" in education, trade, security, science 2/
Interesting. Tsai says Australia and Taiwan helped each other deal with #Covid She says Australia "graciously offered" Taiwan one million litres of alcohol to make hand sanitiser. Taiwan supplied Australia with three tons of "the key raw material for surgical mask production" 3/
Read 8 tweets
26 Aug 20
I'm at the @PressClubAust for the keenly awaited speech from the Chinese Embassy's deputy head of mission, Wang Xining. Will be live tweeting.
Wang Xining opens by describing the rapid growth of Australia-China trade ties. He says in the last 20
years "our trade volume has grown from less than 10 billion to 235 billion Australian dollars last year" 2/
Wang acknowledges a "rift" between Australia and China. He says like a marriage, a bilateral relationship needs
"determination and joint effort to make it thrive." He adds: "while a rift between husband and wife hurts one family, a rift between two countries hurts millions" 3/
Read 25 tweets
2 Jul 20
Thread. Australia's defence minister @lindareynoldswa is taking questions at @ASPI_org after giving a speech on the government's new defence strategy. She says Australia is willing to do more "heavy lifting" in the region by boosting its capabilities 1/
Reynolds says the post World War II order has collapsed. "The world that we grew up in is no more" she says. The consequences of this are profound 2/
The Defence Minister bats away a question on whether the US is now a less reliable partner in Asia - "No. The US is still the bedrock of peace and security in the region." But she says the balance of power has undeniably shifted 3/
Read 8 tweets
28 Feb 20
Thread. Some useful nuggets here in this interview. Until recently Maude was at the heart of @dfat and Australia’s foreign policy establishment. So it’s worth taking a close look at what he says 1/
@dfat First, Maude is quite blunt on China. He says CCP ideology is fundamentally hostile to the west (and therefore Australia) 2/
@dfat Sure, this is a statement of the obvious. But given @MarisePayne and senior diplomats (probably for good reason) always use euphemisms about the CCP having “different values” or a “different system” it's useful/refreshing to have the mask ripped off by someone of his heft 3/
Read 10 tweets
25 Oct 19
OK a *surprising* number of people told me to talk to this guy and find out more. Who is he? Why does he wear a Trump shirt? I was a little terrified but earlier this week I summoned all my courage and said hello THREAD
Because I was scared I took the coward's way out, and encouraged my two year old to say hello first. Not even this hardened veteran could resist after Tobias ventured forward, golden locks and all, to shyly tug at his shirt
The gentleman introduced himself with his anglicised name, which is Peter. He looks like he's carved out of granite. He scowled a bit at the beginning, but was more bemused than hostile. After he established I wasn't trying to sell him anything he relaxed a bit
Read 21 tweets
5 Jun 19
Breaking for Pacific watchers – I’ve interviewed Solomon Islands PM Manasseh Sogavare about China/Taiwan, his meeting with @ScottMorrisonMP and the Pacific step up. Here are some excerpts. 1/
Sogavare says that Solomon Islands is under “a lot of pressure” to recognise China, though he doesn’t say precisely what form that pressure takes. He praises Taiwan-SI ties and says it would be “sad” if Honiara ditched Taipei 2/
But Sogavare says his nation has a “super long list” of factors to weigh up as it makes the decision. On the one hand, China could offer assistance with major infrastructure projects. On the other hand – well, there could be strings attached 3/
Read 10 tweets
2 Jun 19
Breaking for Pacific watchers. These are the main announcements soon to be made by @ScottMorrisonMP in Honiara. First- the Aust Govt will fund a new bilateral infrastructure programme for Solomon Islands. It will be worth up to $250 million in grant financing over ten years. 1/
BUT it's worth noting that this money will be from the aid budget - ie redirected from existing/planned programs. In other words Australia continues to embrace infrastructure funding at the expense of (some) traditional health/education/governance programs 2/
Australia will also help design and build a new office building for the Solomon Islands Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade 3/
Read 6 tweets
1 May 19
Shadow Foreign Minister @SenatorWong is giving a speech to @LowyInstitute on Labor's foreign policy priorities. She opens by saying the ALP sees Australia as "an independent, multicultural nation confident of our place in the world"
Wong says the world and Australia is facing a disrupted global order. "The playbook of decades past may be of limited utility" in this new era.
Wong says if Labor wins power it will put the Pacific "front and centre" and offer "support and partnership" to the region. She also attacks the Coalition's cuts to foreign aid in the wider Asian region - "this will not serve our interests or our prosperity"
Read 24 tweets
4 Feb 19
Long thread on a fraught subject. Wanning Sun and Haiqing Yu have accused reporters of stoking xenophobia with “insinuative journalism” on Chinese Communist Party influence in Australia (article republished here)…
It’s a thoughtful piece and deserves close attention. As journalists we have to make sure we don’t lapse into clumsy generalisations when reporting on the CCP in Australia. But I think there are some clear flaws in the article.
First they argue there’s no tangible evidence of the CCP using social media to try to influence Aust elections. I agree that there’s no pattern of widespread interference in elections. But there are also some egs which shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand…
Read 15 tweets