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Wednesday, 10 September 2003
Page: 19809


Mr Danby asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 20 August 2003:

(1) Has the Government noticed any change in charging and sentencing patterns for political dissidents in China over the last few years.

(2) Is he able to say whether political dissidents were more or less likely to be charged, convicted or receive severe sentences when China was applying for entry into the World Trade Organisations.

(3) Is he able to say whether political dissidents are more or less likely to be charged, convicted or receive severe sentences since 11 September 2001.

(4) Is he able to say whether political dissidents are more or less likely to be charged, convicted or receive severe sentences since the increased focus on the nuclear tensions on the Korean peninsula.

(5) What is the Government's response to the assessment by Professor Cohen of the New York University Law School and Mr Genser, President of Freedom Now, an organisation that works to free prisoners of conscience, expressed in the Asian Wall Street Journal on 4 August 2003, to the effect that the Chinese Government has been able to avoid its human rights obligations because of the United States' need for Chinese cooperation on Iraq and North Korea.


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

(1) No.

(2) No.

(3) No.

(4) No.

(5) The Government considers that there has been no change to China's human rights obligations and has consistently urged China to fulfil these obligations.