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  1. #1
    Bigly Fiendish
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    Australia V China

    New figures show Chinese investment in Australia is continuing to plummet as distrust between the two countries grows and companies from the mainland turn towards emerging markets.
    Key points:

    Investors laid out $2.5 billion dollars in 2019, roughly half of what they spent in 2018
    An ANU professor says investors are viewing Australia as a more difficult place to invest
    He says it is likely new Australian government regulatory barriers are deterring investors

    The Australian National University’s Chinese Investment in Australia (CHIIA) database shows investors laid out just $2.5 billion in 2019, roughly half of the $4.8 billion they spent in 2018.

    Chinese investment in Australia peaked at almost $16 billion in 2016 but has nosedived since then.
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    The Morrison Government seems to be betting that all it needs to do is hold its nerve and hold the line when it comes to China's trade threats.
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    There were big falls across most sectors in 2019, including real estate, mining and manufacturing. Investment in agriculture collapsed but picked up slightly in both the construction and finance sectors.

    The leader of the database project, ANU professor Peter Drysdale, said there was no single explanation for the precipitous decline.

    Chinese companies are increasingly focused on developing markets and Beijing is trying to stem the flow of capital offshore, with foreign direct investment from China dropping globally by almost 10 per cent in 2019.

    The drop in Australia has been much sharper, partly because the mining boom — which brought heavy flows of investment from China — has now tailed off.

    But Professor Drysdale said Chinese investors were also turning away from Australia because of new regulatory barriers thrown up by the Government.

    "Chinese investors now view Australia as a more difficult place to invest in now, there's no question about that," he said.

    There have been a series of intense political controversies over Chinese investment in Australia in recent years, and the Federal Government has intensified its scrutiny of foreign investment more broadly.
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    Can the big miners avoid being caught in the new cold war between Australia and China?

    Earlier this year, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg introduced new restrictions designed to stop overseas companies from targeting distressed Australian assets hit by the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

    The biggest transaction recorded by CHIIA in 2019 was the Mengniu Dairy Company's acquisition of infant formula maker Bellamy's Australia for $1.5 billion.

    But last month Mr Frydenberg effectively blocked Mengniu Dairy from buying Australian company Lion Dairy and Drinks, saying the deal would be "contrary to the national interest".

    The political relationship between Australia and China has also become increasingly rancorous, with the two countries mired in a series of disputes over foreign interference, the intimidation of Australian journalists in China, cyber espionage, trade, Hong Kong and the COVID-19 outbreak.

    Professor Drysdale said he expected future figures would show Chinese investment in Australia falling even further in 2020.

    "In fact, the numbers we see coming in so far in the work we are doing suggest there has been a drop away again this year, so this trend is certainly continuing," he said.

    https://www.abc.net. au/news/2020-09-13/chinese-investment-in-australia-takes-nosedive/12657140

  2. #2
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    China puts Australia on notice over wheat exports

    Australian wheat producers have been dragged into the growing political and trade tussle between Canberra and Beijing, after China warned it would put Australian exports under the microscope.

    Key points:

    China says it will apply "enhanced inspection" of shipments of wheat arriving from Australia
    Australian has already sold more than dozen wheats shipments worth almost $250 million
    In May, China applied an 80 per cent tariff on Australia's barley exports which were worth $1.6 billion a year.

    In the latest sign of souring relations between the two countries, China's General Administration of Customs has issued a notice in the past two weeks saying it will apply "enhanced inspection" efforts on shipments of Australian wheat.

    It comes at a delicate time for wheat growers, who are believed to have forward-sold more than a dozen shipments to China for December and January worth almost $250 million.

    In May, Australia's barley trade with China — once worth $1.6 billion a year — was all but destroyed after Beijing imposed crippling 80 per cent tariffs.
    'Huge concern'

    Nick Carracher, chief executive of Geelong-based market analyst Lachstock Consulting, said the decision by China was worrying given the value and volume of wheat already sold.

    He said the move appeared to be political given China's need for feed grain and the dwindling nature of its own reserves.
    Iron ore out of bounds

    China has targeted everything from Australian barley to coal, wine to tourists and students, but it isn't likely to come after our biggest export, iron ore. Ian Verrender explains why.
    Read more

    It also had echoes of Beijing's decision to reject barley shipments sent by giant WA grain handler CBH on grounds the vessels were contaminated with "pests", he added.

    "It's obviously going to be a huge concern to those people who have forward business in China, the implications for the vessels that haven't unloaded yet.

    "But one thing that is very clear is that China has this increased willingness to scrutineer the vessels that are coming in.

    "It's definitely a very nervous time for the guys that have got forward business on."
    Barley bigger export than wheat

    According to Mr Carracher, while the Australian wheat trade with China had been smaller than exports of barley in recent years, activity had been picking up ahead of this year's harvest.

    Despite minimal flows last year in the face of severe drought in the eastern States, exports amounted to about $300 million in 2017-18 and almost $500 million in 2016-17.

    CBH, Australia's biggest grain handler, declined a request for an interview.

    Instead, the co-operative issued a statement in which it said: "The CBH Group is confident that the grain we export from Western Australia meets all Australian phytosanitary export requirements, whether it is barley, wheat or other products."

    Grain Producers Australia chairman Andrew Weidemann said the news was no surprise given events earlier this month.
    Find more rural news

    See the latest news and information from the agriculture and mining industries, including weather and the markets, on ABC Rural.

    "This is not unexpected that they would heighten their increased surveillance on any grain, or any producer really, transferring from Australia to China at the moment," Mr Weidemann said.

    "I think the trade (participants) are well aware of the current political environment between Australia and China and are looking to export (grain) as well as they can within tolerance."

    Mr Weidemann said it was always concerning when there were problems with trading partners but he expected Australian grain arriving in China to meet quality controls.

    He said issues had previously arisen because of differences in sampling techniques and suggested harmonising the countries' approaches could help avoid problems in the future.

    "We have flagged doing a research project with the Chinese around snails that, unfortunately, has been lost with all of the discussions we've been having recently around the trade of barley and tariffs between our two countries," he said.

    Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has been contacted for comment.

    https://www.abc. net.au/news/rural/2020-09-14/china-put-australia-on-notice-over-wheat-exports/12661710

  3. #3
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    Chinese database collects information on thousands of Australians, from PMs to pop stars

    What do Prime Minister Scott Morrison, tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes and pop star Natalie Imbruglia have in common?

    Each of them is the subject of entries in a vast database of people's personal information, compiled by a company with links to the Chinese Government.

    Revelations of the database have raised further questions about the extent of China's global surveillance operations, and concerns for the privacy of the more than 35,000 Australians who appear in it.

    And cyber-security experts say the leak contains lessons for us all.
    So what exactly does this database contain?

    The database was put together by Zhenhua Data, whose main clients include the Chinese Communist Party and the People's Liberation Army.

    It has 2.4 million entries, of which just over 10 per cent were accessed and restored by cyber security experts from Canberra company Internet 2.0, which was handed a leaked version of the database.

    The 250,000 restored entries include 35,558 relating to Australians, with details including dates of birth, addresses, marital status, relatives, criminal records and political associations.
    OKIDB homepage
    Zhenhua Data's vast database has explicit references to use by military intelligence.(Supplied.)

    The restored entries also include profiles of citizens from the US, the UK, India, Indonesia, Canada, Malaysia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

    In some instances the profiles include news articles about the subject, images, and social media handles.

    But Rachel Falk from the Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre said more concerning was the fact some profiles appeared to draw on confidential bank records, job applications and psychological profiles.

    "You have to ask how they did get hold of that? I don't quite know," she said.

    Who has been affected?

    Several prominent figures are among the 35,000 Australians discovered in the restored part of the leaked database, including state and federal politicians, military officers, diplomats, academics, civil servants, business executives, engineers, journalists, lawyers and accountants.

    It's not clear how people were selected for entry into the database.

    Current and former prime ministers are on the list, as well as leading businessman David Gonski, Jennifer Westacott from the Business Council of Australia, and the billionaire founders of tech company Atlassian, Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes.
    David Gonski with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
    David Gonski is among the thousands of Australians in the database.(AAP: Joel Carrett)

    More than 650 Australians in the database are listed as being of "special interest" or "politically exposed". However, it isn't known how the company defines those terms, and there's no suggestion anybody on that list has done anything wrong.

    Among people on that list are the aforementioned pop star Natalie Imbruglia, Victorian Supreme Court Judge Anthony Cavanough, retired Navy admiral and former Lockheed Martin chief executive Raydon Gates, former ambassador to China Geoff Raby, former Tasmanian premier Tony Rundle and former NSW premier and federal foreign minister Bob Carr.

    Also included are One Nation co-founder David Oldfield, National Party President Larry Anthony, former treasurer Peter Costello's son Sebastian, ex-Labor MP Emma Husar, News Corp journalist Ellen Whinnett and rural businesswoman and ABC director Georgie Somerset.
    How did Zhenhua get hold of all this information?

    Much of the information could have been collected through open source techniques, as it is often freely available online.

    It leaves open the possibility much of the data could have been collected by simply trawling through publicly available data.

    "It seems to be that the database is comprised of what we call open source data. That comes from social media sites, it could be from news sites and blog sites," Ms Falk said.

    "Certainly what was concerning was the allegations of psychometric reports or financial information, and that is not information that should be freely available on any open source web search."
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    Professor Clive Hamilton says the wide range of people named is concerning

    Cyber security expert Clive Hamilton, from Charles Sturt University, said Zhenhua may have been collecting the information from inside Australia.

    "The company … boasts that it has 20 information collection centres spread around the world," he said.

    "This suggests that there's almost certainly one in Australia. So that means somewhere in Australia, there is a Chinese state-owned company that is sucking up data from across Australia and feeding it into China's intelligence service."

    But Ms Falk said she was unsure that would be necessary.

    "The worldwide web is worldwide … so there is no reason to suggest they would need to be located in Australia at all," she said.
    Why would they want to do this?

    Ms Falk said there could be several motivations behind collecting the data.

    "It could simply be to match up who knows whom, who does what, to compile a dossier on certain people," she said.

    "It could be to see or determine the vulnerabilities, it could be used by others to phish or to gain access to them, so send them an email to gain access to a system."

    She said some of the data collected would be invaluable to cyber criminals if it fell into the wrong hands.

    "That list would be incredibly valuable to see what people's potential vulnerabilities will be, or their interests might be," she said.

    "There could be a range of sinister and benign reasons, some of which we may not know for some time."

    Given so much of the data appeared to have been collated from social media and other public sources, Ms Falk said the leak contained a lesson for all Australians.

    "I think [it's] a wake-up call that whenever you post information on a website, or openly on social media, it is one global 'trash and treasure'," she said.

    "One person's trash in data, may be somebody else's treasure.

    "If you post information for everyone to read, you have to expect that many people will read it."

    https://www.abc. net.au/news/2020-09-14/china-database-scott-morrison-cannon-brookes-imbruglia/12661696?section=politics

  4. #4
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Looper View Post
    "There could be a range of sinister and benign reasons"
    Ranging from very sinister to extremely sinister, you dumb bitch.

  5. #5
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    They just don't want to forget our birthdays. How sweet.

  6. #6
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    A representative of Zhenhua Data told the Guardian that a database, known as the Overseas Key Information Database, did exist but that it was “not as magical” as suggested in foreign media reports because it simply connected individuals to the social media they used.


    With some Australian-based analysts also questioning the significance of the leaked materials, Potter conceded that most of the data was based on material openly available on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Crunchbase and LinkedIn.

    But collecting vast troves of data in this way raised important questions, he said. “Open source doesn’t necessarily mean people want it to be public,”
    I suppose that's the crux of the issue. Is your publicly available Data mined? Well jeez, Einstein- ever wondered why your mobile seems to mysteriously know where you been shopping lately, or are those advertisers a coincidence? Of course when the Chinese do it, it is sinister- I mean gotta be, innit? For everyone else though (oh, except Russia) it's OK. Well that's a long list of entities mining your Data- and there is nothing illegal about it. Predictable that it takes a simple playing of the China card for it to register with people.

  7. #7
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sabang View Post
    Of course when the Chinese do it, it is sinister
    ...of course: why do it if not to profit Greater China...

  8. #8
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    Ummm, possibly to make some guys rich?

  9. #9
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sabang View Post
    possibly to make some guys rich?
    ...yep: and those guys know who and how to thank those that enabled them...

  10. #10
    Hansum Man! panama hat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sabang View Post
    Ummm, possibly to make some guys rich?
    Surely you're not suggesting that there is a disconnect between wealth and the communist dictatorship in China

  11. #11
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    You are sounding as absurd as Mike Pompeo. So the Chinese have no profit motive, say our seasoned TD Asian expat brigade*. ROFL




    *On their way to the ATM to get some $ from a [Chinese owned] bank, to go to the [Chinese owned] shopping mall, and shop at a [Chinese owned] supermarket to buy some booze from a [Chinese owned] brewery




    You guys crack me up.

  12. #12
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sabang View Post
    You guys crack me up
    ...none so blind as those...etc...

  13. #13
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    If the Chinese have a good memory and are playing a long game, they'll be remembering the West forcing their way into the country and the British insisting on the right to addict many people to opium, the Japanese pushing their way in for bayonet practice in Nanjing and so on.
    Hopefully vengeance isn't a thing in China .....

  14. #14
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    They have a very good memory. The 'Century of Humiliation' is embedded into Chinese consciousness.

  15. #15
    Hansum Man! panama hat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sabang View Post
    You are sounding as absurd as Mike Pompeo. So the Chinese have no profit motive, say our seasoned TD Asian expat brigade*. ROFL
    My politics are hardly in the same ballpark as Pompeo but it shows your desperation in justifying a repressive regime's motives and being an apologist for mass-incarceration and torture.

    See how the broad brush works, sabang? You're clearly a communist sympathiser - you must be if your opinion coincides with the communist regime, right? Right.



    Quote Originally Posted by sabang View Post
    They have a very good memory. The 'Century of Humiliation' is embedded into Chinese consciousness.
    Who is this 'they'? You mean the communist leadership that keeps raising the so-called 'century of humiliation' to further their own means? To dredge up whenever the murderous regime needs to show its hypocrisy?

    Or do you mean the 1.4 billion Chinese, in which case you're really stretching it
    Last edited by panama hat; 15-09-2020 at 02:13 PM. Reason: edit sp.

  16. #16
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    If you think this is being done solely for the profit motive, your understanding of the chinese state intelligence machine is somewhat limited.

    They'll be looking for every pattern they can to cross-reference anyone who has *ever* said anything critical about Chinastan with every single person with whom they have contact.

    Then pass that information to their intelligence services to start the targeted phishing et al.

    They have by far the largest state-controlled hacking apparatus on the planet, makes even Russia's look tame.

  17. #17
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    They have by far the largest state-controlled hacking apparatus on the planet,
    Nope, the largest State controlled intelligence gathering & hacking apparatus is the USA, by far.

  18. #18
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sabang View Post
    Nope, the largest State controlled intelligence gathering & hacking apparatus is the USA, by far.
    Is this a topic you cover in detail while doing your TEFL training?

  19. #19
    Hansum Man! panama hat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sabang View Post
    Nope, the largest State controlled intelligence gathering & hacking apparatus is the USA, by far.
    Where you get this 'fact' would be interesting

  20. #20
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    Just look at the budgets of the combined US intelligence agencies, and that doesn't even include MI. The NSA alone would dwarf Chinese spending.

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    Hansum Man! panama hat's Avatar
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    Except its not about spending alone, is it.


    So, no facts to substantiate your claim?

  22. #22
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sabang View Post
    Just look at the budgets of the combined US intelligence agencies, and that doesn't even include MI. The NSA alone would dwarf Chinese spending.
    If you even knew what that budget went on it would be one thing, but given that you have no idea of the amount the chinkies spend and the size of their state intelligence apparatus, you are doing what is known in the trade as "pissing to the wind".

  23. #23
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    As a rough guide the US are responsible for about 10% of the world's cyberattacks.

    They are second.

    China is responsible for more than 40%.

    They are top by a country mile.

  24. #24
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    No one knows, exactly. But it is certainly north of $80bn pa.

    The Intelligence Budget

    The United States has 17 separate intelligence agencies. In addition to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis and the FBI, mentioned above, they are the CIA; the National Security Agency; the Defense Intelligence Agency; the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research; the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Office of National Security Intelligence; the Treasury Department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis; the Department of Energy’s Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence; the National Reconnaissance Office; the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency; Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance; the Army’s Intelligence and Security Command; the Office of Naval Intelligence; Marine Corps Intelligence; and Coast Guard Intelligence. And then there’s that 17th one, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, set up to coordinate the activities of the other 16.


    We know remarkably little about the nature of the nation’s intelligence spending, other than its supposed total, released in a report every year. By now, it’s more than $80 billion. The bulk of this funding, including for the CIA and NSA, is believed to be hidden under obscure line items in the Pentagon budget. Since intelligence spending is not a separate funding stream, it’s not counted in our tally below (though, for all we know, some of it should be).
    Intelligence Budget total: $80 billion

    Making Sense of the $1.25 Trillion National Security State Budget

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomcat View Post
    those guys know who and how to thank those that enabled them
    1. Campaign contributions
    2. Ensuring any "facts" that those who are deemed untouchable are not reported or buried.

    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    As a rough guide the US are responsible for about 10% of the world's cyberattacks.

    They are second.

    China is responsible for more than 40%.
    Quote Originally Posted by panama hat View Post
    Where you get this 'fact' would be interesting

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