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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."

New Report Highlights Chinese Influence in Australia

April 9, 2009

April 8, 2009

Dharamsala, April 8 - "Courting the Dragon," a
new report by the Australia Tibet Council (ATC),
reveals the alarming extent of Chinese Government
attempts to influence Australian politicians, media, NGOs and universities.

"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”, said Paul Bourke, Executive Officer of the Australia Tibet Council.

The report catalogues numerous examples of
Chinese officials breaching international
diplomatic norms in attempts to influence
Australian politicians. It also appraises the
extent to which the Government, universities and
civil society may already have succumbed to improper Chinese interference.

Last year, during his landmark speech to students
at Beijing University, Australian Prime Minister
Kevin Rudd signalled a more mature and confident
relationship with China, pledging to "engage in
principled dialogue about matters of contention”
and to “see beyond immediate benefit to the
broader and firm basis for continuing, profound and sincere friendship."

The report, according to the ATC, questions the
Government’s commitment to this pledge, stressing
that Australia’s near silence on Tibet since
April 2008, despite the worsening crackdown and
collapse of the Tibet-China dialogue, has sent a dangerous message to Beijing.

"Australia’s near silence on Tibet would lead one
to assume that conditions for Tibetans had
actually improved. In fact there has been a
severe deterioration in the human rights
situation facing the Tibetan people over the last
year. We have allowed the Chinese Government to
believe it can continue its oppressive policies
with impunity”, said Mr. Bourke.

ATC’s report contends that tabloid hype and
political opportunism surrounding the Joel
Fitzgibbon scandal have drawn attention away from
legitimate concerns and questions. The report
calls for a more intelligent and constructive
discussion about how to foster a mature and
equitable relationship with China - one that will
further develop Australia's economic partnership
while ensuring "progress in human rights and other vitally important areas".

"In particular, we must be more open eyed about
the extent to which Chinese officials are
attempting to influence policy and decision
making in Australia," said Mr. Bourke,
emphasizing the double standards underlying such
behaviour: “It would be unthinkable for our
diplomats in Beijing to attempt to instructions
to elected Chinese officials, or for our
Government to seek to influence the Chinese
media. The fallout would be tremendous."

In addition to well-publicised recent incidents,
the report outlines many related trends including
the Communist Party’s grip on Australia’s ex-pat
Chinese community, cyber attacks on Australian
citizens and how Confucius Institutes threaten
the autonomy of our universities.

"When you piece all these trends together, the
overall picture is quite striking," said Mr. Bourke.

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