Australian Government's 'Softly-Softly' Approach Regarding China's Human Rights Situation Draws Criticism

At the annual "human rights dialogue" on Monday, June 27th, the Australian delegation did not raise the case of defecting Chinese diplomat Chen Yonglin, who claimed that the Chinese Government had deployed about 1000 spies to persecute Chinese-Australian pro-democracy activists and Falun Gong practitioners. People from different walks of life criticised the government for being too timid and blindly compromising with the Chinese communist regime.

The Age, an Australian newspaper, reported on June 28th, 2005, that the Federal Government has come under fire for failing to question Chinese officials about claims that Chinese agents have persecuted political dissidents in Australia.

According to the report, at an annual and closed "human rights dialogue" on Monday, Australian officials did not raise allegations that the Chinese Government had persecuted Chinese-Australian pro-democracy activists and practitioners of Falun Gong. Geoff Raby, the Foreign Affairs Department official who led the talks, said it was "not the forum" for tackling the allegations.

The report stated that the failure to raise the claims have fuelled accusations that Australia is taking a "softly softly" approach on human rights to keep good relations with China.

According to The Age, yesterday reports emerged that Australia had refused to join "secret" US-led talks to discuss China's expanding role in the world, for fear of offending China.

The report quoted a Falun Gong spokeswoman Kay Rubacek, who said that practitioners in Australia had experienced a "pattern of intimidation and harassment" by Chinese agents, which included slashed car tires.

Australian government criticised over China human rights

According to a report from Radio Australia on June 28th, 2005, Australia's main opposition Labour Party has criticised the Government for not raising the case of defecting Chinese diplomat Chen Yonglin during its annual human rights dialogue with China.

Mr. Chen claims there are up to a thousand Chinese spies in Australia, some of whom are monitoring the Falun Gong movement, which is outlawed in China.

The Australian delegation did not raise the case of Mr. Chen during talks Monday, in the Chinese capital, Beijing, said the report.

Labor's acting foreign affairs spokesman Robert McClelland says the Australian delegation was too timid.

The report quoted Mr. McClelland, who said, "That's precisely the sort of forum where they could have been raised privately but sincerely."

In the end, the report stated, Bob Brown from the Greens party accused the Australian Government of being cowardly.

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