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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

ATC Report: Courting the Dragon

April 9, 2009

Chinese Government Influence in Australia and Our
Response to the Tibetan Situation
Australian Tibet Council
April 2009


Introduction 3
Part 1 Incidents of Actual or Attempted Influence
by the Chinese Government on Australian Media,
Education, NGOs and Government Policy 4
a) Federal and State Parliaments 4
i) Pressure from Chinese Ambassador and Consuls General 4
ii) Delegations from China 6
iii) Hu Jintao’s 2003 Visit 7
b) Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 7
c) Australian Media 8
d) Australian Universities 8
i) The Confucius Institute 8
ii) A Billion Dollar Industry 9
e) Australia’s Chinese Community 10
f) Cyber Attacks on Australian Citizens 11

Part 2 Australia’s Response to the Tibetan Situation 13
a) Rudd as "Zhengyou" 13
b) Collapse of the Tibet-China Dialogue and Intensifying Crackdown in Tibet 14
c) Australia in Comparison to other Western Powers 14
Conclusion 16

1 Letter from Chinese Ambassador Zhang Junsai to
Michael Danby MP, 27 February 2009
2 Letter from Chinese Consulate General in Sydney
to Ian Cohen MLC, 2 June 2008
3 Letter from Chinese Consul General Junting Tian
to The Hon. Elaine Carbines MLC, 10 October 2003


A recent spate of controversies, including
Chinese mineral giant Chinalco’s Rio Tinto bid
and revelations of hushed meetings between the
Chinese propaganda chief and Australian media
bosses, have once again brought the issue of our
deepening relationship with China to the fore.

Nonetheless, political opportunism has hampered
almost all efforts at a sensible debate. Latching
onto the Joel Fitzgibbon scandal, the opposition
has taken every opportunity to stir up fear and
suspicion while the Government has retorted with
charges of economic nationalism and stirring up "yellow peril" sentiments.

It is this report’s contention that beneath this
escalating war of words are a number of
legitimate concerns and questions. Ranging across
China’s actual or attempted influence over
Australian media, education and politics, these
issues must be subject to a rigorous and balanced public debate.

To what extent is the Chinese Communist Party
attempting to shape the Australian agenda? To
what extent has the Australian Government
capitulated? Have we compromised our nation’s ethics in the process?

The first part of this report catalogues recent
known trends or incidents of improper Chinese
influence in Australia and breaches of
international diplomatic norms by Chinese
Government officials. The second part tracks how
the Prime Minister and Australian Government’s
response to the worsening situation in Tibet has
waned with the deepening global financial crisis,
China’s growing assertiveness on the
international stage and tralia’s growing economic interdependence with China.


Incidents of Actual or Attempted Influence by the
Chinese Government on Australian Media, Education, NGOs and Government Policy

a) Federal and State Parliaments

i) Pressure from Chinese Ambassador and Consuls General
It is common for Australian politicians to
receive letters from the Chinese Embassy and
Consulates General outlining the Chinese
Government’s position on Tibet and other
sensitive issues and discouraging them from
attending or participating in events organized by
the Tibetan community, Falun Gong or other
organizations deemed subversive by the Chinese
Government. The Chinese Embassy in Canberra has
also been known to send propaganda materials such
as DVDs, magazines, calendars and books on
"China’s Tibet" to federal politicians.

Example 1
On 27 February 2009, Zhang Junsai, Chinese
Ambassador to Australia, wrote to Michael Danby
MP, government backbencher and convenor of the
Australian All-Party Parliamentary Group for
Tibet, requesting he not attend a commemorative
event marking the 50th anniversary of the 1959
Tibetan Uprising and the Dalai Lama’s exile[1] (see copy attached):

"I notice with regret, however, that you will
attend the so-called "Commemorating 1959 Tibetan
Uprising" assembly in front of the Parliament
House on 10 March, organized by "Tibetan
independence" groups. As I mentioned to you, the
rebellion in Tibet on 10 March 1959 and the riot
in Lhasa on 14 March last year are violent
activities perpetrated by the Dalai group aimed
at separating China and undermining ethnic unity
and social stability in China. The rally on 10
March will be another act of "Tibetan
independence" groups to pursue "Tibetan
independence," tarnish the image of the Chinese
Government and impair China-Australia relations.

"Obviously, your attendance will be inconsistent
with what you have said and will inevitably be
utilized by "Tibetan independence" groups. I hope
you will give careful consideration to this and
refrain from attending the 'Tibetan independence' activity on 10 March."

Mr. Danby was due to speak at the event. Speaking
to the press after receiving the letter, Mr.
Danby asserted that China has to understand the democratic norms of Australia.

"No self-respecting MP would listen to a letter
like this and not turn up to some political event
because an ambassador of another country told him."

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith backed Mr. Danby’s decision:

"What a diplomat is not entitled to do is to
somehow seek to direct an elected official or an
elected member of parliament about how he or she
might conduct himself or herself," said Mr.
Smith. "They are entitled to put a view but they
are not entitled to direct."[2]

Example 2
In another recent example, on 2 June 2008, the
Consulate-General of the PRC in Sydney wrote to
Ian Cohen, member of the New South Wales
Legislative Council, immediately prior to the
Dalai Lama’s arrival in Australia (see copy attached):

"As you are probably aware, Dalai Lama is coming
once again to Australia, once again for his
political cause, and once again in the disguise of religion.

"Your Honorable, as they might try to seek
support of any form from political dignitaries
like you, you are kindly advised not to meet
Dalai or attend any of his activities."

All such letters claim the Dalai Lama and Tibet
support groups, pejoratively labelled the "Dalai
Clique," are seeking independence for Tibet, a
claim rigorously and consistently denied by the Dalai Lama.

Example 3
On 17 October 2003 Junting Tian, the Chinese
Consul General in Melbourne, was accused of
"intimidatory behaviour" after several state and
federal MPs endorsed a paid advertisement in The
Australian organized by the Australia Tibet
Council during Hu Jintao’s 2003 visit to
Australia.[3] In a strongly worded letter to
Elaine Carbines MLC, then Parliamentary Secretary
for the Environment in the Bracks Government and
Chair of the Victorian Parliamentary Friends of
Tibet, Junting Tian admonished Ms. Carbines for
"mobilising" state MPs to support the
advertisement and called on MPs to respect
Australia’s position that Tibet is part of China.
The advertisement did not call for Tibetan
independence but rather requested constructive
dialogue between Hu Jintao and the Dalai Lama.

In his letter, Junting Tian said he was "writing
to remind you that (the) Tibet issue is an
internal matter of the People’s Republic of China
which is very sensitive" (see copy attached). Ms.
Carbines called the letter "an over-the-top
reaction to our attempt to raise the matter." The
Consul General also sent a package of Chinese
books and propaganda materials on Tibet to Ms. Carbines’ office.

Senator Bob Brown, leader of the Australian
Greens commented that "it’s unwanted behaviour in
Australia that an embassy should be sending out
material to members of parliament with the aim of
changing their plans or behaviour."

The Consul General sought a confidential meeting
at the Victorian Parliament with the Presiding
Officers. Junting Tian asked the Presiding
Officers "to request Elaine Carbines refrain from
activities opposed by the Chinese Government". In
an extraordinary breach of international
diplomatic norms, the Consul General further
asked the Presiding Officers to "suppress the
activities of the Victorian Parliamentary Friends of Tibet".

Example 4
On 1 April 2008, The Epoch Times, a newspaper
founded by Falun Gong practitioners, reported
that China's Melbourne Consular General Liang
Shugen had sent letters to Victorian State MPs
warning them not to attend performances of the
Chinese Spectacular at the Melbourne Arts Centre,
a theatrical performance organized by exiled
followers of Falun Gong4. The same article claims
that Sydney’s Chinese Consulate tried to prevent
the New South Wales State Parliament holding a
forum on human rights in China during 2007’s APEC
summit in Sydney. Officials from the Chinese
Consulate in Sydney reportedly visited Peter
Primrose, President of the New South Wales
Legislative Council, in an attempt to have the forum cancelled.

Further Examples
Federal and State MPs are also known to have
received letters discouraging them from attending
a public seminar with the Dalai Lama co-hosted by
the Australia Tibet Council and Monash
University’s Castan Centre for Human Rights Law in 2007.

ii) Delegations from China
In the wake of Tibet-wide protests in 2008, the
Chinese Government dispatched delegations of
"Tibetologists" to many Western countries
including the US, UK, Switzerland, Italy, Czech
Republic, Finland and Australia. The delegation
included representative of the
government-operated China Tibetology Research
Centre, Tibet University in Lhasa and Central
University of Nationalities of China. In
Australia the delegation visited Canberra,
Melbourne and Sydney, addressing federal and
state parliamentarians, civil servants, media and
members of the Chinese community. The delegation
reassured audiences that the Chinese Government
had "taken special measures to protect Tibetan
culture" and "promised to maintain its policy
towards the minorities as well as its support to
the economic development in Tibet."[5] Such
assertions are a direct contradiction of the
assessments of independent research
organizations, including leading human rights
monitors Human Rights Watch and Amnesty
International6. In Sydney the seminar was held in
the New South Wales Parliament House.[7] No
members of Sydney’s Tibetan community were invited to attend.

On 9 April 2001 a leaked PRC statement on
"Tibet-Related External Propaganda"[8] divulged
the purpose and background to such visits:

"External publicity on Tibet is an important
element of our country’s external propaganda. It
is also a very important element of our struggle
against the Dalai clique and hostile western
forces. ...We need to carry out diligently external propaganda on Tibet.

"We should maximize the use of our 50 Tibetology
Centres and 1,000 Tibetologists to carry out
external propaganda work on Tibet. Under
appropriate banners of non-government
organizations, they should form a national force
of Tibetologists. ... Our Tibet specialists
should make well-planned visits to foreign
countries. ...By means of cultural exchange, we
should enhance our influence over western community and its opinion.

"Tibetology work must produce maximum results in external propaganda on Tibet.

"We need to have long-term strategy and mental
preparation. In addition, we need to plan and
organize ourselves to fight each battle carefully.

"In this overall struggle for public opinion of
the Tibet issue, Tibetology institutes should become and effective army.

"To sum up, the main responsibilities and
potential of Tibetology research in our external
propaganda on Tibet are to produce ideas,
results, intellectuals, and confrontation strategies.

"Propaganda’s aim is to convince people, with
their hearts and influence them."

iii) Hu Jintao’s 2003 Visit
On 24 October 2003 Chinese Foreign Minister Li
Zhaoxing informed Neil Andrew, Speaker of the
House of Representatives, that Chinese President
Hu Jintao would not proceed with an address to a
joint sitting of Parliament that morning unless
assurances could be given that it would not be
interrupted by any form of protest9. The Chinese
delegation had carefully scrutinized the list of
guests invited by each MP and senator and noted
the inclusion of Chin Jin, chairman of the Federation for a Democratic China.

Neil Andrew and Senate President Paul Calvert
informed Li Zhaoxing that Chin Jin and two
Canberra-based Tibetans, all guests of the
Australian Greens, would be barred from entering
the public gallery. In an extraordinary and
unprecedented incident, the Chinese Government,
so successful at suppressing freedom of speech at
home, convinced the Australian parliament to do the same.

b) Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
On 9 February 2009, at the request of the Chinese
delegation, the Australia Tibet Council (ATC) was
excluded from a reception for NGOs during the
Twelfth Australia-China Human Rights Dialogue.
ATC had attended these receptions during the
previous two Australian rounds of the annual
dialogue -- 2004 and 2006. The Foreign Minister
called the move “an unfortunate backwards step” by the Chinese delegation10.

Though the Department of Foreign Affairs and
Trade, including the Minister himself, claimed to
have had lobbied hard for ATC’s inclusion, the
case represents an example of China successfully pressuring DFAT on Tibet.

Mr. Tenzin Atisha, Representative of His Holiness
the Dalai Lama for Australia and New Zealand,
commented that this was the first occasion during
his seven-year term in Canberra during which he
had not been consulted by DFAT officials ahead of the dialogue.

In a separate incident, Ngodup Gyaltsen,
assistant to Mr. Atisha at Canberra’s Tibet
Information Office, was one of 29 participants
from 16 countries in the University of New South
Wales’ 2008 Diplomacy Training Program. One
session of the training was held at DFAT and
involved a practical lobbying exercise with DFAT
desk officers. Ngodup was not attending the
course as a representative of the Tibet
Information Office. Nonetheless, he was told that
he could not participate in this session. The
decision prompted the remaining participants to
consider boycotting this part of the training en
masse. In the end the training went ahead without
Ngodup. Did the Chinese Embassy apply pressure or
did DFAT act to pre-empt their complaint.

c) Australian Media
On 25 March The Australian’s Cameron Stewart
reported a hushed meeting between Li
Changchun[11] and ABC Managing Director Mark
Scott.[12] According to Stewart, Li Changchun
lobbied Mark Scott for the "Chinese Government’s
views to be fully represented in ABC reports."

Xinhua, China's state-run media agency, reported
that Mr. Li "briefed" Mr. Scott on the Chinese
Government's stance on Tibet and told Mr. Scott
"we hope (the ABC), as an influential news
organization, can tell the Australian audience
about a real China (in a) comprehensive, well
balanced, fair and objective manner."

Li Changchun’s request for media balance in
Australia comes amidst continued heavy government
censorship of media in China and highly
restricted access to Tibet and other sensitive areas.

Li Changchun also met with ABC Chairman Maurice
Newman and Seven Network Chairman Kerry Stokes.
Members of Li Changchun’s delegation met with
Nick Cater, editor of The Weekend Australian.

d) Australian Universities

i) The Confucius Institute
Since 2004 the Chinese Government has presided
over the establishment of over 100 "Confucius
Institutes," ostensibly for the promotion of
Chinese language and culture overseas. There are
four such institutes in Australia, operating
within the Universities of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Western Australia.

While proponents claim the Confucius Institute
has antecedents in such cultural programs as the
Goethe Institute and the century-old Alliance
Françoise, critics note that unlike these other
programs, the Confucius Institute operates within
universities and exercises a degree of influence
over the courses taught at those universities.

In recent years, the Confucius Institute has
evolved from simple community outreach, such as
offering courses in Chinese language, towards a
broader teaching and research focus.

The institute at Sydney University, Australia’s
newest, has a remit that includes a number of
areas of scholarly research in addition to undergraduate teaching.

Jocelyn Chey, a former diplomat and visiting
professor at Sydney University, is among those
who believe that the Confucius Institute is a
threat to the autonomy and academic freedom of our universities.[13]

Strategically located in many of the world’s
leading universities, the Confucius Institute
enables Chinese authorities to have an increasing
element of control over teaching and research in many countries.

ii) A Billion Dollar Industry
Education is the third largest export sector in
Australia, below coal and iron ore but ahead of
tourism, beef, wheat and manufacturing. According
to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2008
education represented a $13.8bn export industry
for Australia. In 2005 over 344,000 international
students came to study in Australia, with 47.5
per cent (163,930) enrolled in higher education
programs across Australia’s 37 universities.

China represents by far the largest source
country for Australian education providers, with
Chinese students accounting for 24% of total
enrolment figures. Australia’s universities are
now heavily reliant upon income from fee-paying
Chinese students. Operating in an increasingly
competitive market, Australian education
providers and research institutions are naturally
reluctant to compromise their lucrative ties to
Chinese Universities or incur the wrath of
government and people wholly intolerant of criticism.

While it is impossible to show conclusively that
such concerns have compromised academic freedom
within our universities, there are ample
anecdotes that would lend credence to such a
claim. Speaking on condition of anonymity, one
Australian researcher on Tibet spoke of a
widespread fear of backlash from Chinese
academics and students, as well as the
university’s management, should one openly
present criticism of Chinese Government policies
in Tibet. Australian universities, in particular
the Australian National University (ANU) are home
to numerous acclaimed China scholars.
Nonetheless, with a few notable exceptions, few
are willing to engage in critical discussion over Tibet.

According to said researcher, fear of backlash
has produced a culture of self-censorship.

Detained during a research visit to Tibet, a
prominent Australian scholar was informed that
all his academic activities concerning Tibet were
recorded by Chinese authorities and shown a
dossier to this effect. Another researcher on
Tibet, again speaking on condition of anonymity,
noted the increasing reluctance of Australia’s
leading universities to host visiting Tibetan
scholars or lend their name to any forums that
examine critically the Chinese Government’s current policies in Tibet.

e) Australia’s Chinese Community
The first indicators of increasing Chinese
Government influence in Australia are to be found
within the ex-patriot community. Closely allied
to the Communist Party, Chinese community
organizations in Australia provide the Chinese
Government with the ability to wield significant
influence upon the views and activities of Australia’s Chinese community.

In late March 2008 a group within Australia’s
Chinese community, purporting to be made up of
nearly a hundred Chinese organizations, issued a
public statement denouncing the Dalai Lama and
the movement for human rights and democratic
freedoms in Tibet, threatening to undermine it.
The statement went against the position of the
Australian Prime Minister and Government. With
few exceptions, Chinese language newspapers in
Australia continue to propagate the official Chinese Government line on Tibet.

On 24 April 2009 an estimated 15,000 members of
Australia’s Chinese community, including around
10,000 of Australia’s 60,000 Chinese students,
travelled to Canberra for the Australian leg of
the Beijing 2008 Olympic Torch Relay.

Jon Stanhope, Chief Minister of the Australian
Capital Territory, confirmed that the Chinese
Embassy in Canberra was closely involved in
helping transport Chinese students,[14] ensuring
Chinese nationalists vastly outnumbered Tibetan
activists. It is understood that Embassy staff
were in regular contact with travel companies and
student leaders ahead of the relay. Chinese
demonstrators appeared highly organized, with
leaders wearing colour-coded uniforms and using
walkie-talkies. Stanhope conceded that the
Embassy was also involved in providing flags and
briefing Chinese representative groups. The
Chinese Students and Scholars Association
admitted running a national webbased campaign to
recruit students from across the country to
travel to Canberra. Across several Australian
university campuses Chinese student associations
advertised their intent for “patriotic”
activities. Strident nationalist language was used in the advertisements.

A Tibetan man from Sydney recalled his experience of the day as follows:

About 10-15 young Chinese people completely
surrounded me and started yelling and swearing at
me and demanding that I give them my flag. I felt
very scared and thought that they may throw me off the bridge.

The students chased me and then another gang of
approximately 30 more ran from the other
direction and completely surrounded me and
started kicking me, punching me and swearing at me.

Some were pulling my hair, some were hitting me
with water bottles. Some were spitting at me and
then a few of them stole my Tibetan flag.

While some were punching me about three of them
were taking photos of my face and yelling at me
with their fingers directly in my face, "Where do
you live?" One man looked very different from all
of the rest as he was wearing a suit and tie and
glasses. He approached me and started pushing his
chest into mine very forcefully, He had both his
fists clenched and continued to bully me by
shoving his whole body forcefully into mine, and
he was trying to get me to hit him back. He was
really provoking me. I felt really intimidated,
when he said to me with his finger right in my
face in a very aggressive manner, "If you don’t
shut your mouth, we will kill you, we have you
photo and we will kill you." I didn’t retaliate
and I kept telling them that I didn’t come here
to fight; I came here for Human Rights for the
Tibetans and the Chinese people.

Since my escape from Tibet in 1993, this is the
first time that I have feared for my life. I have
lived in Australia with my wife and children for
nearly 3 years and I have always thought that I
am lucky to live in a free country under a
democratic law, where I could walk down the
street with a Tibetan flag if I wanted to, but on
this day I really felt like I was back in China
when Australia became China for a day.

By contrast, following the PR disaster that
befell the Chinese Embassy after 24 April’s
nationalist frenzy, Chinese demonstrators were
notably absent during the Dalai Lama’s five-day
teaching at Sydney’s Olympic Park in June. The
comparison added considerable weight to the claim
that the 24 April’s demonstration was far from spontaneous.

f) Cyber Attacks on Australian Citizens

After the defection of Chinese diplomat Chen
Yonglin in 2005, the Australian public learnt for
the first time of a massive Chinese Government
operation to collect information on Chinese
dissents, exiled Tibetans, Tibet support groups,
Falun Gong practitioners and other groups through its diplomatic missions.

On 29 March 2009 the University of Toronto’s Munk
Centre for International Studies published
"Tracking GhostNet: Investigating a Cyber
Espionage Network."[15] The results of a 10-month
investigation into an alleged spying operation
against Tibetan institutions, the report revealed
a network of over 1,295 networks in 103
countries. 30% of these are "highvalue" targets,
including ministries of foreign affairs,
embassies, international organizations, news
media, and NGOs. While the researchers were
unable to prove outright that the Chinese
Government was behind the operation, the nature
of the targets and sophistication and timing of
the attacks point strongly towards Chinese
Government involvement. Furthermore, researchers
have found actions taken by Chinese Government
officials that corresponded with the information obtained via the "GhostNet."

The report validates long held concerns of
Australia Tibet Council and other Tibet support
groups, for whom cyber attacks are an almost
daily occurrence. Australia Tibet Council has
noticed a marked increase in both the frequency
and sophistication of cyber spying over the past
year. Prior to 2008, primitive virus-laden
emails, peppered with clumsy language and
familiar Communist Party turns of phrase, were
easy to spot and could usually be safeguarded
against with up-to-date anti-virus software. More
recent attacks have been much harder to detect.
The intention of the majority of today’s viruses
is not to disable computers but rather to slip in
undetected and extract information from the host.

There are numerous incidents of cyber spies
assuming the identity of a trusted colleague
within the Tibet movement. A typical attack will
consist of an email purportedly from a Tibetan
organization such as the Tibetan
Government-in-Exile and addressed to a number of
recipients within the Tibet movement. The email
will contain a "Trojan horse" virus concealed in
a rigged .pdf or Microsoft office document,
designed to covertly extract information from the
recipient’s computer. Some such viruses go
undetected by anti-virus software. There are
instances of emails from one Tibet worker being
intercepted and rigged with malware before being
forwarded to others within the Tibet movement.
Those within the Tibet movement have learned to
avoid using email attachments as much as possible
to reduce the risk of virus infection.

PART 2: Australia’s Response to the Tibet Crisis

a) Rudd as "Zhengyou"
In a speech to Beijing University students one
year ago Kevin Rudd made international headlines
by stating publicly and on Chinese soil that
there are significant human rights problems in
Tibet. Invoking the Chinese notion of a
"Zhengyou" or, in his own words "a partner who
sees beyond immediate benefit to the broader and
firm basis for continuing, profound and sincere
friendship," the Prime Minister pledged to
"engage in principled dialogue about matters of contention."[16]

Kevin Rudd was the first Western leader to visit
China following the violent crackdown on protests
inside Tibet. Though drawing immediate rebuke
from Chinese officials, Tibet supporters saw Mr.
Rudd’s forthright stance on Tibet, to which he
held both publicly in Beijing and in private
meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao and
Premier Wen Jiabao, as pivotal to the
international diplomatic efforts that led in May
to the resumption of contact between Chinese
officials and representatives of the Dalai Lama.

Mr. Rudd’s actions in Beijing were consistent
with his pre-election pledge to "raise human
rights concerns with the Chinese Government and
urge China to ratify the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights as soon as possible."[17]

"We believe in rigorously raising such issues
with China, both through the Australia-China
Human Rights Dialogue and directly for particular human rights cases.[18]

As conditions in Tibet deteriorated, Foreign
Minister Stephen Smith also held firm to Labor’s
position, stating on 17 March "we remain
concerned about serious inadequacies in the
protection of Tibetans' civil and political
rights."[19] Three days earlier Mr. Smith had
told the Australian Financial Review that "just
because we have an emerging or growing economic
relationship with China doesn’t mean we don’t make these points."

Shortly before his arrival in Beijing, in a joint
press conference on 28 March in Washington with
George Bush, then US President, Kevin Rudd stated
"it's absolutely clear that there are human
rights abuses in Tibet. That's clear-cut. We need
to be up front and absolutely straight about
what's going on, shouldn't shilly-shally about it.[20]

Two days later the Foreign Minister further
assured Australians of continued representations
to the Chinese Government over Tibet:

"[A]s the Prime Minister himself has made it
clear, either in the past as Shadow Foreign
Minister and in the future, he proposes on a
regular basis to raise questions of human rights,
as we should, as the Australian Government should
and particularly as a Labor Government should.

"And what we hope the Chinese will understand is
that if we do differ on issues that we believe
are important, if we do differ on these issues
then the relationship that we have with China,
the maturity of the relationship is such that it
can bear that burden. But these are important
issues which we've raised in the past, and we
will exercise our own judgement in the future
about whether we raise them privately or publicly, or both."

b) Collapse of the Tibet-China Dialogue and
Intensifying Crackdown in Tibet The Australian
Government’s relative silence on Tibet since
April 2008 would leave one to suspect that the
crisis had been largely resolved. On the
contrary, the last year has seen a severe
deterioration in the human rights situation
facing the Tibetan people, the closure of Tibet
to foreign media, tourists and diplomats, the
collapse of the Tibet-China dialogue and extreme
measures by the Chinese Government to silence
dissent and convey a false image of stability.

Since April 2008, excepting occasional statements
from the Foreign Minister and a brief statement
by the Prime Minister prior to his attending the
opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, the
Australian Government’s publicly disclosed action
on Tibet has been limited to the confidential
Australia-China Human Rights Dialogue and
representations during the UN Human Rights
Council’s Universal Periodic Review of China on
10 February 2009. The Australia-China Human
Rights Dialogue has been heavily criticised for
its lack of transparency and accountability and a
complete absence of concrete objectives and
measurable outcomes. Human rights advocates
complained of filibustering by Chinese delegates
during a brief session for NGOs during the
dialogue. The Chinese delegation refused to allow
any Tibetan representation during the dialogue.

While the Government welcomed the resumption last
year of direct talks between Chinese officials
and representatives of the Dalai Lama, it
remained silent following the collapse of these
talks. It has yet to comment on the Chinse
Government’s outright rejection of a detailed
proposal for meeting the needs of the Tibetan
people through proper implementation of existing
provisions in the PRC constitution.[21]

c) Australia in Comparison to Other Western Powers

While support for Tibet from world leaders and
national governments has suffered numerous
setbacks in recent months, the Australian
Parliament has been notable in its reluctance to
criticise China’s actions in Tibet.

On 12 March the Australian Senate voted down a
non-binding motion acknowledging the "Tibetans
half-century of peaceful resistance to policies
undermining their religion, identity and
culture," noting the "Chinese Government’s
outright rejection of the Tibetans’ Memorandum on
Genuine Autonomy" and noting that "unilateral
efforts by concerned governments, including
Australia, have failed to secure meaningly negotiations on Tibet’s future."

By contrast, two days earlier the US House of
Representatives passed 422-1 a considerably
stronger motion "calling for a sustained
multilateral effort to bring about a durable and
peaceful solution to the Tibet issue."

Similarly, a resolution adopted by the European
Parliament on 12 March urged the Chinese
Government to resume talks with the Dalai Lama's
representatives. The resolution further urged the
Chinese Government "to consider the Memorandum
for Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People of
November 2008 as a basis for substantive
discussion leading towards positive, meaningful
change in Tibet, consistent with the principles
outlined in the Constitution and laws of the
People’s Republic of China". The resolution
called on the EU Council Presidency to adopt a
declaration along the same lines.

The Dalai Lama’s visit to Australia in June 2008
came at a politically more significant time for
the Tibetan people than any of his previous five
visits to Australia. Nonetheless, Rudd eschewed
all opportunities to meet with the Dalai Lama.
With both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard overseas,
Immigration Minister and Acting Prime Minister
Chris Evans was the most senior Australian
official to meet with the Dalai Lama. Away from
the media, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith held a
brief last minute meeting with the Dalai Lama in Perth.

By contrast, George Bush, then US President,
welcomed the Dalai Lama into the US Capital
building on 17 October 2007 for the presentation
of the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest US
civilian honour. On 12 April 2008 the Dalai Lama
gave a speech to a formal sittings of the
European Parliament. Over the last year he has
been welcomed by the leaders of most of the world’s major democracies.

The Dalai Lama will be returning to Australia in
December 2009, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of his Nobel Peace Prize.


There is little doubt that the deepening
financial crisis, our economic interdependence
with China and the growing assertiveness of
Chinese officials is influencing Australia’s
response to many contentious issues, including
Tibet. This report recommends a full and
independent inquiry into attempts by Chinese
officials to influence policy and decisionmaking in Australia.

The Rudd Government brought expectations of a
more mature, confident and equitable relationship
with China -- one that will further develop our
economic partnership while ensuring progress in
human rights and other vitally important areas.
The realization of this goal requires in the
first instance a balanced and intelligent debate
over the many legitimate concerns brought to the
fore by recent controversies in Australia-China relations.

1. "China tells MP to avoid Tibet rally" Cynthia
Banham, The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 March 2009.

2. "Pro-Tibet Protesters Clash With Police"
Sandra O'Malley and Bonny Symons-Brown, The Age, 10 March 2009.

3. "Chinese Accused of Intimidating MPs" Steve
Lewis, The Australian, 17 October 2003.

4. "Chinese Consulate Interference in Australia
Out of Line" Shar Adams, The Epoch Times, 1 April 2008.

5. "Chinese Tibetologists Hold Talks with
Australian Officials" Xinhua, 28 July 2008.

6. A detailed and comprehensive analysis of
independent information from Tibet over the last
year can be downloaded from the Australia Tibet
Council website:

7. "Tibetologist: China Will Not Change Policies
on Tibet," People’s Daily Online, 25 July 2008.

8. "Leaked PRC Statement on 'Tibet-Related
External Propaganda,'" International Campaign for Tibet, 9 April 2001.

9. "How Hu Silenced the House" Steve Lewis, The Australian, 25 October 2003.

10. Joint Press Conference with Foreign Minister
for Portugal, Luis Amado, 10 February 2009.

11. Li Changchun is the fifth ranked member of
the Politburo, the top power organ in China, and
is considered to be the Communist Party’s “Propaganda Chief”.

12. "China Requests Tibet Balance" Cameron
Stewart, The Australian, 25 March 2009.,,25238447-7582,00.html

13. "Chinese 'Soft Power' -- Cultural Diplomacy
and the Confucius Institutes" Jocelyn Chey, The
Sydney Papers, Volume 20, Issue 1 (Summer 2008).

14. "Chinese Embassy Helped Get 'Rent-a-Crowd' to
Relay" Ben English, The Daily Telegraph, 25 April 2008.,23599,23594307-2,00.html
On 24 April 2008 an estimated 15,000

15. The full report can be downloaded here:

16. Kevin Rudd, 09-04-2008 Source: Speech by Kevin Rudd at Beijing University
Full transcript:,25197,23511584-5013947,00.html

17. Kevin Rudd, 09-11-2007 Source: Personal correspondence

18. Kevin Rudd, 09-11-2007 Source: Personal correspondence

19. Stephen Smith, 17-03-2008 Source: The Age, "Human Rights on Rudd’s Agenda"
Full story:

20. Kevin Rudd, 28-03-2008
Source: Joint Press Conference with President of the United States, Washington
Full transcript:

21 "No progress in eighth round of dialogue as
Chinese reject autonomy proposal" International
Campaign for Tibet, 10 November 2008.

"Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan

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