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Australian Financial Review questioned over China content sharing deal

Questions have been raised about the Australian Financial Review's decision to sign a content-sharing agreement with a Chinese media outlet subject to Chinese Government oversight.

Key points:

AFR has begun publishing content from Chinese media outlet Caixin Global
Caixin seen as one of the most outspoken outlets in tightly-controlled Chinese landscape
AFR says Caixin articles will augment, not detract from, the newspaper's China coverage

The Fairfax newspaper signed a deal in Sydney this week with the Beijing-based Caixin Global, which paves the way for the two outlets to publish each other's content.

Caixin is seen as the most influential financial news outlet in China and is widely regarded as one of the most outspoken and reputable in a tightly-controlled environment.

But experts warn there are no completely independent Chinese media outlets.

“Caixin is licensed by the state, has attracted significant state investment, and like other Chinese news outlets its jo..

Questions have been raised about the Australian Financial Review's decision to sign a content-sharing agreement with a Chinese media outlet subject to Chinese Government oversight.

Key points:

  • AFR has begun publishing content from Chinese media outlet Caixin Global
  • Caixin seen as one of the most outspoken outlets in tightly-controlled Chinese landscape
  • AFR says Caixin articles will augment, not detract from, the newspaper's China coverage

The Fairfax newspaper signed a deal in Sydney this week with the Beijing-based Caixin Global, which paves the way for the two outlets to publish each other's content.

Caixin is seen as the most influential financial news outlet in China and is widely regarded as one of the most outspoken and reputable in a tightly-controlled environment.

But experts warn there are no completely independent Chinese media outlets.

"Caixin is licensed by the state, has attracted significant state investment, and like other Chinese news outlets its journalism is subject to state oversight," Dr David Nolan from The University of Melbourne's Centre for Advancing Journalism said.

Caixin Global is the English language arm of Caixin Media, a group established in 2010, which publishes magazines, online content and books.

China Media Capital (CMC) is the majority shareholder in Caixin Media and was set up with government backing.

CMC is headed by a former top Shanghai government official, Li Ruigang, who is also known as "China's Rupert Murdoch".

The AFR published its first stories from Caixin Global on Monday.

University of Melbourne senior journalism lecturer Louisa Lim said one of the articles was "extolling the virtues of the Belt and Road Initiative quite uncritically."

"One would hope that the AFR would be thinking very carefully about just printing sort of propaganda pieces, which have no investigative reporting component," she said.

"I think every news outlet … needs to think very carefully about at what price they're selling their own credibility."

'Caixin wanting to push the [censorship] boundary'

The AFR's editor in chief Michael Stutchbury said the newspaper was not being paid to run Caixin's content, and the article in question was not by Caixin but was an opinion piece commissioned for a forum on Chinese investment in Australia, co-hosted by the AFR and Caixin.

"We understand that Caixin's ownership structure has some Chinese state backing, which is not exceptional in the Chinese system," he said.

"Notwithstanding this, Caixin and its publisher-founder Hu Shuli have a track record of detailed investigative reporting, including into Chinese companies such as insurance giant Anbang and in exposing corruption in Chinese business and government."

Hu Shuli sitting down, speaking into a microphone with a World Economic Forum banner in the background.

Hu Shuli is one of China's most respected journalists, has won numerous international awards and was named in Time magazine's 100 most influential people list in 2011.

She is also said to be well connected to the Chinese Communist Party.

"[Hu Shuli] has close ties with top Party leaders, such as Wang Qishan and Xi Jinping," said Deakin University's Dr Jian Xu, referring to the Chinese President and Vice-President.

Despite concerns about Caixin's independence, some said the partnership was a good idea.

"We're information-poor about China," Lowy Institute senior fellow for East Asia Richard McGregor said.

"There's kind of only upside to this. Caixin magazine is not the China Daily, it's not the People's Daily, it's not an arm of the Chinese state, anybody reading it will know where the content comes from because it's marked.

"I just don't see any real downside."

Media studies professor at the University of Technology Sydney Wanning Sun also said Caixin was known for its good journalism and was a logical choice of Chinese partner for the AFR.

"Caixin is known for wanting to push the [censorship] boundary and push the envelope," she said.

A screenshot of the homepage of the Caixin Global news website.

'Soft power attempt'

It is not the first time Chinese media outlets have linked up with Australian publishers, and media experts are questioning the purpose of this latest deal.

"It would appear that these [Caixin stories] are soft power attempts to influence, and that's probably what people need to be aware of," Professor of communication at Deakin University Matthew Ricketson said.

"You might ask … whether there is a question [that] by having this material whether it jeopardises or calls into question their [the AFR's] own independence."

Xi Jinping sits in a meeting

Mr Stutchbury said the arrangement would augment, not detract from, the AFR's existing "vigorous and independent" China coverage.

Caixin Globlal declined to comment to the ABC but said in its own news report that the partnership would help get its content to a wider audience.

"With rising global interest in China, we are bringing our original, investigative journalism to international readers through enhanced English-language offerings," Ms Hu said.

"The tie-up with the highly respected Australian Financial Review is an important step in this endeavour."

Caixin already has partnerships with other news outlets including The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News and the BBC while the Australian Financial Review also collaborates with others such as the Financial Times, The New York Times and The Daily Telegraph in the UK.

The ABC has also been criticised in the past for partnering with the Shanghai Media Group in 2015.

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Australia

Relive days two and one at the Parkes Elvis Festival in our live blog!

Are you ready to Rock and Roll? Were all shook up this year over the 2019 Parkes Elvis Festival. Theres a program full of non-stop entertainment, competitions, dancing and a lot of black leather, and were going to be following it from the trains, to the Wall of Fame and much more. During each day of the festival the Parkes Champion Post will bring you the best content – if you cant be here in Parkes we will make you feel like you are part of the crowd, and if you are make sure you keep an eye out for your photo and details from the days events. READ MORE Want to know whats coming up next? Find the program below!

Are you ready to Rock and Roll?

Theres a program full of non-stop entertainment, competitions, dancing and a lot of black leather, and were going to be following it from the trains, to the Wall of Fame and much more.

During each day of the festival the Parkes Champion Post will bring you the best content – if you cant be here in Parkes we will make you feel like you are pa..

Are you ready to Rock and Roll? Were all shook up this year over the 2019 Parkes Elvis Festival. Theres a program full of non-stop entertainment, competitions, dancing and a lot of black leather, and were going to be following it from the trains, to the Wall of Fame and much more. During each day of the festival the Parkes Champion Post will bring you the best content – if you cant be here in Parkes we will make you feel like you are part of the crowd, and if you are make sure you keep an eye out for your photo and details from the days events. READ MORE Want to know whats coming up next? Find the program below!

Are you ready to Rock and Roll?

Theres a program full of non-stop entertainment, competitions, dancing and a lot of black leather, and were going to be following it from the trains, to the Wall of Fame and much more.

During each day of the festival the Parkes Champion Post will bring you the best content – if you cant be here in Parkes we will make you feel like you are part of the crowd, and if you are make sure you keep an eye out for your photo and details from the days events.

Want to know whats coming up next? Find the program below!

This story Relive days two and one at the Parkes Elvis Festival in our live blog! first appeared on Parkes Champion-Post.

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Australia

Cotton Australia, irrigators hit back at criticism over fish kill

IRRIGATORS and cotton growers have hit back at suggestions they, in combination with government policy, were somehow responsible for the fish kill that took out as many as a million fish early this week near Menindee Lakes. NSW Irrigators Council chief executive Luke Simpkins and Cotton Australia general manager Michael Murray have both defended their respective organisations water use, while lamenting the fact such a disaster occurred. Both blamed drought for the fish kill. “What has happened is as a result of the drought and no water flowing into the rivers. This drought is a devastating time for all of us. This is not about diversions, but about inflows,” said Mr Simpkins. “Without inflows, blue-green algae events will continue to kill fish. This was predicted in December in an ABC report and algal blooms have killed fish before,” he said. “It should be remembered that irrigation farmers on the Upper Darling have not been allocated any water from the system for 18 months because of ..

IRRIGATORS and cotton growers have hit back at suggestions they, in combination with government policy, were somehow responsible for the fish kill that took out as many as a million fish early this week near Menindee Lakes. NSW Irrigators Council chief executive Luke Simpkins and Cotton Australia general manager Michael Murray have both defended their respective organisations water use, while lamenting the fact such a disaster occurred. Both blamed drought for the fish kill. “What has happened is as a result of the drought and no water flowing into the rivers. This drought is a devastating time for all of us. This is not about diversions, but about inflows,” said Mr Simpkins. “Without inflows, blue-green algae events will continue to kill fish. This was predicted in December in an ABC report and algal blooms have killed fish before,” he said. “It should be remembered that irrigation farmers on the Upper Darling have not been allocated any water from the system for 18 months because of the drought.” He said general security allocations (meaning the percentage of a water licence farmers are able to use) have been at zero per cent in both the Gwydir and Lower Namoi valleys. “The water simply isnt there for anyone. “As we approach the state election in March and the federal election in May, it is understandable that MPs seeking re-election and candidates seeking election will want to raise their profiles by allocating blame. “Ultimately it is their credibility that will evaporate when they seek to deny the existence of the drought and the lack of rainfall/inflows,” said Mr Simpkins. Cotton Australia general manager Michael Murray said cotton growers should not be blamed for this weeks fish kill, nor those last month. “New South Wales is in the grip of a long and devastating drought. This drought is impacting all agricultural sectors, including the cotton industry where this seasons crop is forecast to be at least half of last seasons,” he said.. “On the Barwon-Darling, the impact on cotton production is even more devastating with no cotton being grown in Bourke this season, down from 4000 hectares the year before. “Further upstream at Dirranbandi (home of Cubbie Cotton), just 300 hectares of cotton has been planted, which is 1pc of what can be planted in a very good season. “Cotton Australia is very proud of our industry that produces a quality fibre that is in demand both here at home and around the world, but as an industry we are tired of being the whipping boy for all the problems that are being brought on by this crippling drought. “About 18 months ago, 2000 gigalitres of water was in the Menindee Lakes before the Murray-Darling Basin Authority took the deliberate decision to accelerate releases from Menindee to meet downstream requirements and reduce overall evaporation losses from the lakes. “In hindsight, this was probably a poor decision, but it does highlight the incredibly difficult task of managing flows in a manner that minimise losses, but ensures enough water is available for communities and the environment during extended severe droughts. “Since July 1, 2017, irrigators have extracted just 16 gigalitres out of the Barwon-Darling – an amount that would have evaporated out of Menindee in just 16 days. “Coupled with the extensive drought and the simple fact there has been little to no rain, the release of water from the lakes has exacerbated the conditions leading to these fish deaths,” said Mr Murray. “What this issue highlights is how difficult the management of the Menindee Lakes is.” You can now receive updates straight to your inbox from the Daily Liberal. To make sure you're up to date with all the news, sign up to our free or subscriber only newsletters below:

NSW Irrigators Council chief executive Luke Simpkins and Cotton Australia general manager Michael Murray have both defended their respective organisations water use, while lamenting the fact such a disaster occurred.

Both blamed drought for the fish kill.

“What has happened is as a result of the drought and no water flowing into the rivers. This drought is a devastating time for all of us. This is not about diversions, but about inflows,” said Mr Simpkins.

“Without inflows, blue-green algae events will continue to kill fish. This was predicted in December in an ABC report and algal blooms have killed fish before,” he said.

“It should be remembered that irrigation farmers on the Upper Darling have not been allocated any water from the system for 18 months because of the drought.”

He said general security allocations (meaning the percentage of a water licence farmers are able to use) have been at zero per cent in both the Gwydir and Lower Namoi valleys.

“The water simply isnt there for anyone.

“As we approach the state election in March and the federal election in May, it is understandable that MPs seeking re-election and candidates seeking election will want to raise their profiles by allocating blame.

“Ultimately it is their credibility that will evaporate when they seek to deny the existence of the drought and the lack of rainfall/inflows,” said Mr Simpkins.

Cotton Australia general manager Michael Murray said cotton growers should not be blamed for this weeks fish kill, nor those last month.

“New South Wales is in the grip of a long and devastating drought. This drought is impacting all agricultural sectors, including the cotton industry where this seasons crop is forecast to be at least half of last seasons,” he said..

“On the Barwon-Darling, the impact on cotton production is even more devastating with no cotton being grown in Bourke this season, down from 4000 hectares the year before.

“Further upstream at Dirranbandi (home of Cubbie Cotton), just 300 hectares of cotton has been planted, which is 1pc of what can be planted in a very good season.

“Cotton Australia is very proud of our industry that produces a quality fibre that is in demand both here at home and around the world, but as an industry we are tired of being the whipping boy for all the problems that are being brought on by this crippling drought.

“About 18 months ago, 2000 gigalitres of water was in the Menindee Lakes before the Murray-Darling Basin Authority took the deliberate decision to accelerate releases from Menindee to meet downstream requirements and reduce overall evaporation losses from the lakes.

“In hindsight, this was probably a poor decision, but it does highlight the incredibly difficult task of managing flows in a manner that minimise losses, but ensures enough water is available for communities and the environment during extended severe droughts.

“Since July 1, 2017, irrigators have extracted just 16 gigalitres out of the Barwon-Darling – an amount that would have evaporated out of Menindee in just 16 days.

“Coupled with the extensive drought and the simple fact there has been little to no rain, the release of water from the lakes has exacerbated the conditions leading to these fish deaths,” said Mr Murray.

“What this issue highlights is how difficult the management of the Menindee Lakes is.”

Would you like more Dubbo and regional news?

You can now receive updates straight to your inbox from the Daily Liberal. To make sure you're up to date with all the news, sign up to our free or subscriber only newsletters below:

This story Cotton Australia, irrigators hit back at criticism over fish kill first appeared on Daily Liberal.

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Australia

Marise Payne declines to put timeframe on Rahaf Alqunun’s asylum claim

Marise Payne has declined to put a timeframe on how soon Australian authorities will be able to reach a decision on whether to offer asylum to Saudi teenager Rahaf Alqunun.

Key points:

The Foreign Minister said Australia was accessing Rahaf Alqunun's claim for asylum
Ms Payne said there were “a number of steps” still to be taken in the assessment process
She said she had also spoken to Thai government officials about the detention of Hakeem AlAraibi

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, who was speaking in Thailand after talks with Thai Government officials, said Australia was engaged in the process of assessing Ms Alqunun's claim for asylum.

But she stopped short of saying how long the claim would take to be processed.

“There are, as I have just said, a number of steps in the process, including in terms of that assessment,” Ms Payne said.

“They are required to be taken and they will be completed within due course and then that matter will be resolved.”

The Department o..

Marise Payne has declined to put a timeframe on how soon Australian authorities will be able to reach a decision on whether to offer asylum to Saudi teenager Rahaf Alqunun.

Key points:

  • The Foreign Minister said Australia was accessing Rahaf Alqunun's claim for asylum
  • Ms Payne said there were "a number of steps" still to be taken in the assessment process
  • She said she had also spoken to Thai government officials about the detention of Hakeem AlAraibi

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, who was speaking in Thailand after talks with Thai Government officials, said Australia was engaged in the process of assessing Ms Alqunun's claim for asylum.

But she stopped short of saying how long the claim would take to be processed.

"There are, as I have just said, a number of steps in the process, including in terms of that assessment," Ms Payne said.

"They are required to be taken and they will be completed within due course and then that matter will be resolved."

The Department of Home Affairs confirmed on Wednesday that the United Nations refugee agency had referred Ms Alqunun's case to Australia for consideration.

Ms Alqunun's asylum application was fast-tracked, partly because of security concerns, after the young woman's father and brother arrived in Bangkok and asked Thai police to see her.

Ms Alqunun, 18, flew into Thailand from Kuwait on the weekend, saying she had a ticket onwards to Australia where she had hoped to seek asylum over fears her family would kill her for renouncing Islam.

But when she arrived in Bangkok she said a Saudi diplomat met her at the airport and tricked her into handing over her passport and ticket, saying he would secure a visa.

The teenager then barricaded herself inside her room at an airport hotel, and requested to speak to the United Nations refugee office.

Ms Payne said she had also spoken to Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister about the detention of Hakeen AlAraibi, and his possible return to Bahrain.

She said Mr AlAraibi had been visited by officials from the Australian embassy on a number of occasions and the Australian Government was engaging with his legal team.

"We are, as I've said, very concerned about his detention, very concerned about any potential for return of Mr Araibi to Bahrain," she said.

"I have reiterated those concerns to both ministers."

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