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Thursday, 10 May 2007
Page: 174

Mr Danby asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, in writing, on 28 February 2007:

(1)   Is the Government aware that six underground Catholic bishops as well as dozens more remain imprisoned in China, and that three have disappeared.

(2)   Has the Government made any representations to the Chinese authorities about Bishop Su Zhimin, who has been missing for some ten years, and whose fate remains uncertain; if not, why not.

(3)   Is the Government aware that all underground Church properties have been confiscated by the Chinese Government; if so has it made any representations to the Chinese authorities regarding this matter.

Mr Downer (Minister for Foreign Affairs) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

(1)   I am aware of reports regarding the imprisonment of Catholic clergy in China.

(2)   No. We have raised a number of individual cases of concern, including those of other Catholic clergy, in our Australia-China Human Rights Dialogues, including the last round of Dialogue held in July 2006.

(3)   The Government is aware of reports regarding confiscation of property. The Government has not made representations on the issue of property. We have raised the broader issue of freedom of religious practice in our Human Rights Dialogues and through our Embassy in Beijing (most recently in February 2007). We continue to urge China to ensure freedom of religious practice and to uphold its proclaimed policy of religious tolerance.