Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Australia: China warns PM on rights [The Age]

A report according to China’s Global Times states Geoff Raby, Canberra’s top envoy to Beijing saying last month that ‘no country could ever replace China in its importance for Australia’s economy.’  – Australia’s Julia Gillard begins first China visit (Global Times, April 26, 2011) To a large extent, that is true, China is providing Australia’s economic ballast for the more it grows, the more of Australia’s resources it needs. This is probably indicative of China’s self-concept of the weight it now carries around. Pre-Beijing Olympics, an announcement as such would have been rare-r.

For more – check out Redefining Australia-China ties (Global Times, April 22, 2011)

– – –

China warns PM on rights
John Garnaut
Source – The Age, published April 26, 2011

BEIJING has warned Julia Gillard not to press too hard on human rights as she begins her first visit to China as Prime Minister.

Ahead of her arrival last night, an editorial appeared in the state-owned Global Times saying ”the Australian government should at least show basic respect to China”.

It called for Ms Gillard to distance her China policy from that of her predecessor, Kevin Rudd, who it said had allowed ideology to ”blow it into a mess”.China’s ambassador to Canberra, Chen Yuming, also told the official Xinhua news agency: ”Australia will have the opportunity to learn about China in many fields, including the tremendous progress made in the field of human rights.”

Ms Gillard will meet Premier Wen Jiabao for talks and a lunch banquet today, before 45 minutes of discussions with President Hu Jintao tomorrow.

At a press briefing before what will be her biggest test on the international stage, Ms Gillard said she was concerned about recent signs of a crackdown in China and said she would be seeking reassurances that it was ”not taking a backward step” on human rights.

She said she was confident of extending economic and practical co-operation while pressing human rights concerns.

But returning to a pragmatic, John Howard-like balance will not be easy in an environment where the state’s willingness to assert its own political interests appears to be growing at least as fast as the Chinese economy.

Over Easter, Chinese police stepped up a broad crackdown against sections of the country’s population, taking dozens of Christians into custody and detaining hundreds in their homes as they tried to gather without permission for Sunday services.

The United States government took the unusual step of publicly flagging that it would press China on ”the recent negative trend of forced disappearances, extra-legal detentions, and arrests and convictions, as well as rule of law, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, labour rights, minority rights and other human rights issues of concern”.

The absence of rule of law in China has affected several Chinese Australians, prompting Ms Gillard yesterday to say she would ”vigorously” defend the rights of Australian citizens.

Expectations are high that she will ask for the release of Matthew Ng, a leading Australian businessman, who was detained on embezzlement charges in November in the midst of a commercial dispute with a company owned by the Guangzhou government.

Prosecutors appear reluctant to accept the current case against Mr Ng, due to a lack of evidence, but there are concerns that local police will arrest him on different charges before the current investigation period ends at the close of this month.

Australian and Chinese officials hope human rights and strategic concerns will not get in the way of efforts to negotiate a free trade agreement, deepen economic ties, and co-operate on climate change and regional diplomatic architecture.

The Chinese have appreciated Ms Gillard’s assurances that China’s economic growth was a good thing for Australia and the world. ”I believe a prosperous China that is strongly engaged with the region is good for Australia and is good for the region,” she said yesterday.

China also broadly accepts that Australia should not have to choose between Beijing and its military alliance with Washington. But many Chinese officials remain concerned about the enthusiasm with which she is deepening those ties.

In South Korea yesterday, Ms Gillard and President Lee Myung-bak agreed to deepen military co-operation, including regular talks between the countries’ defence ministers, which they aim to follow with talks involving their defence and foreign ministers – similar to those now held with Japan.

”This is interpreted as a signal for drawing in Japan and South Korea to restrain China,” said a page 3 report in yesterday’s Global Times.


Filed under: Australia, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Democracy, Education, Environment, Human Rights, Influence, International Relations, Jasmine Revolution, Media, Nationalism, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Resources, Soft Power, Strategy, The Age, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Trade

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