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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

I'm saying it in plain Mandarin: fix Tibet

April 10, 2008

Phillip Coorey Chief Political Correspondent in Beijing
Sydney Morning Herald, Australia
April 10, 2008

UNFAZED by the growing diplomatic unrest, Kevin Rudd has told the
Chinese in their own language there are "significant" human rights
problems in Tibet.

Speaking in Mandarin at Peking University yesterday, the Prime Minister
said Australians were concerned about Tibet and that he would push the
issue during talks with the Premier, Wen Jiabao, today and the
President, Hu Jintao, on Saturday.

Mr Rudd, the first Western leader to speak Mandarin, said Australia
recognised Chinese sovereignty over Tibet "but we also believe it is
necessary to recognise there are significant human rights problems in

He repeated his call for dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama to
broker a long-term solution to the administration of Tibet. China
complained diplomatically in Canberra and Beijing after Mr Rudd made
similar comments about Tibet last week when in Washington.

After yesterday's speech, Mr Rudd stood by his comments.

"I think this relationship is broad enough to tolerate disagreement and
on these questions I'll be putting my views forthrightly," he said.

Tibet's communist governor, Qiangba Puncog, rebuked Mr Rudd, saying his
claims about human rights were "totally unfounded" and that more than 95
per cent of Tibetans "enjoy probably the best human rights on record".

Mr Rudd told the university students he came as a "true friend" - a
zhengyou - not a critic, as he warned the Beijing Olympics were under
threat of being overshadowed by Tibet.

"We wish to see the year 2008 as one of harmony and celebration, not one
of conflict and contention," he said.

The students were clearly impressed by Mr Rudd's mastery of Mandarin.
They laughed heartily when he told them that when he first lived in
China, Mao Zedong was still alive.

In Australia, the Liberals are split on the Olympics. The frontbencher
George Brandis has defied the leader, Brendan Nelson, and backed a
boycott by politicians. Mr Rudd said a boycott would be
counterproductive because "the Olympics are important for China's
continuing engagement with the world".

He again stressed that when the Olympic torch was carried through
Canberra on April 24, there would be no track-suited Chinese security

"We will be providing all the security, and I mean all the security, and
that means that which physically surrounds the torch when it's in
Canberra." He said China had come a long way in the past 30 years but
needed to do more to become a responsible member of the global community.

This would lessen the anxiety caused by China's rapid growth. "The
global community looks forward to China fully participating in all the
institutions of the global rules-based order, including in security, in
the economy, in human rights, in the environment," he said.

"It is a necessary task of responsible global leadership."

During his four-day visit, Mr Rudd will seek an agreement from China to
work in partnership with Australia on capturing and storing carbon
emissions. Australia is the world's largest coal exporter and China is
the largest producer. Before coming to China, Mr Rudd met executives
from the mining giants BHP and Rio Tinto. Both companies are caught in a
row with Chinese steel makers about iron ore prices and both are subject
to speculation about being taken over by the Chinese.

Mr Rudd has already warned he will not become involved in the fight over
ore prices.

The Chinese believe the recent changes to foreign investment conditions
were aimed at limiting the purchasing power in Australia of China's
sovereign wealth funds.

Mr Rudd said China had significant restrictions on "inbound investments"
and that he was just as concerned about such practices in the Middle
East and Russia.

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