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26 March: The Week in Australian Foreign Affairs

26 Mar 2021
By Isabella Keith
Parliament House At Dusk, Canberra ACT Source: Thennicke

This week in Australian foreign affairs: human rights abuses in Xinjiang, diplomatic appointments, an Austrade report, and more.

On 23 March, Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne issued a joint statement on human rights abuses in Xinjiang with her New Zealand counterpart Nanaia Mahuta. The Ministers “[reiterated] their grave concerns about the growing number of credible reports of severe human rights abuses against ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xingjiang.” Moreover, the Ministers welcomed the recent announcement of sanctions on senior Chinese officials by the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, noting that they “share these countries’ deep concerns, which are held across the Australian and New Zealand communities.”

Payne announced several diplomatic appointments on 19 March: Paul Wojciechowski as Australia’s next Ambassador to Afghanistan, Sarah Kirlew as Australia’s next Consul-General in Chennai, David Yardley as Australia’s next High Commissioner to Kiribati, and Felicity Volk as Australia’s next Ambassador to Nepal.

On 18 March, Minister for Trade Dan Tehan announced the release of the Australian Trade and Investment Commission’s (Austrade) Why Australia: Benchmark Report 2021. Tehan noted that the data contained in the report “demonstrates the resilience of the Australian economy and the strength of our economic and health response to COVID-19 that cements our position as a world-leading destination for investment.”

Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton announced on 22 March that the United Kingdom-based far-right extremist group, Sonnenkrieg Division (SKD), has been listed for the first time as a terrorist organisation under the Criminal Code. Dutton noted that “members of SKD have already been convicted of terrorist offences in the United Kingdom” and that “SKD’s active promotion and encouragement of terrorism has the potential to inspire extremists across the world, and the availability of SKD propaganda online throughout the pandemic has provided fertile ground for radicalisation.”

Isabella Keith is an undergraduate student at the Australian National University studying Law and Politics, Philosophy and Economics. She is currently an intern at the AIIA National Office.

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