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Club Online Zoom Event – ‘The Last Correspondent’ and ‘The Truth About China’: Two Australian Correspondents Discuss Reporting in the PRC

Date: 31 May 2021 08:00 PM — 09:00 PM | Venue:

‘The Last Correspondent’ and ‘The Truth About China’: Two Australian Correspondents Discuss Reporting in the PRC
Monday, May 31, 2021
8:00pm HKT on Zoom
In September 2020, deteriorating relations between Australia and China led to a five-day diplomatic standoff during which the two remaining foreign correspondents employed by Australian media were evacuated from the PRC. The journalists, Bill Birtles and Michael Smith, have now both published books about their time living and working in Beijing and Shanghai, respectively: The Last Correspondent and The Truth About China. In this FCC Zoom discussion, Birtles and Smith will discuss the diplomatic rift between Australia and China as well as their newsmaking departure. They will also share their insights into China’s ambitions and what they might mean for the rest of the world. Moderated by FCC President Keith Richburg.
Panelists include:

Bill Birtles was the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s China correspondent in Beijing from 2015 to 2020, his posting coming to a sudden end when he was rushed out of the country by Australian diplomats in an unprecedented diplomatic standoff. Reporting from both major cities and remote provinces throughout the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, he covered an era-defining period of change, upheaval and diplomatic tension as China asserted itself on the world stage. Originally from Sydney, Birtles first studied Mandarin in the Chinese capital and later worked inside the government’s most important state media and propaganda organ, the Xinhua news agency, before returning to Beijing for the ABC. He is now covering Southeast Asia as the ABC’s Indonesia Bureau Chief, based in Jakarta.
Michael Smith has been covering China for over 20 years and is currently the China correspondent for the Australian Financial Review. Michael first moved to Hong Kong in 1993 where he was a political reporter at The Hong Kong Standard. He has worked for Reuters and Australian media outlets in Sydney and London. Michael moved to Shanghai in early 2018 where he reported on China up until his abrupt departure in September 2020, when the Australian government evacuated its correspondents from the country. His first book, The Last Correspondent: Dispatches from the frontline of Xi’s new China, was published by Ultimo Press on April 26.

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