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McDonell: human rights will be an ongoing iss -

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McDonell: human rights will be an ongoing issue

Broadcast: 26/04/2011

Reporter: Ali Moore

China correspondent Stephen McDonell says human rights issues will be a constant problem for
relations between China and the West.


ALI MOORE, PRESENTER: For the latest on Julia Gillard's trip to China, we're joined now from
Beijing by the ABC's China correspondent, Stephen McDonell.

Well Stephen, Julia Gillard's just given a key address to business leaders. How has she been
received in China, particularly after relations, as Mark Simkin just referred to, with Kevin Rudd?

STEPHEN MCDONELL, CHINA CORRESPONDENT: Well, she's met the top two leaders here and as well the
number two leader in the next leadership transition, so I guess that's three of the big four
leaders here, and so it is drawing quite a bit of attention in China.

On the 7 o'clock news here nationally, it was the second story, for example. So, quite a bit of
interest here in the visit from Julia Gillard.

ALI MOORE: Well, I know in her speech tonight that she did raise the issue of the proposed carbon
tax. Is that carbon tax, the idea or the plan to put a price on carbon, an issue for the Chinese?

STEPHEN MCDONELL: Well the interesting thing with global warming in China is that there's no debate
here, no public debate as to whether or not global warming is happening or that it's man-made,
because the Government just accepts the scientific evidence that both of these things are true.

So, you know, you're not going to get people here questioning Julia Gillard about this. And the big
companies here, the state-owned companies have essentially been told to get on with doing something
about this. And so you've got the big oil companies here, they're throwing billions of dollars at
renewable energy, huge wind farms, solar energy and this sort of thing, so it's not seen as such a
conflict here in that way.

And I really think that any sort of - people questioning whether or not coal prices might go up,
for example, imports, as a result of this is just a little bit at the margins. Essentially, as I
said, this is - it's recognised by the Government that these measures must be taken, and so, I
suppose in that sense, Julia Gillard is amongst friends here.

ALI MOORE: Well, amongst friends on that issue. I wonder about the other issue, of course: human
rights, not the favourite subject of Chinese leaders. Have her comments had any impact? How have
they gone down?

STEPHEN MCDONELL: No. Well, you know, this is obviously going to be the big thorny issue, and this
is also going to be an ongoing problem for the West in general, not only for Australia. How does
Australia get on with China?

You know, at the moment we are in the midst of a big crackdown here that Mark Simkin mentioned in
his report earlier, and I'll just give you one example.

Teng Biao, he's a lawyer, a human rights lawyer, now he was taken off the streets here earlier this
year in February, nobody knows where he's gone, his family hears nothing about him. And
essentially, all he's guilty of doing was having a meeting about another human rights activist who
was let out of prison and illegally placed under house arrest.

So if you can't even do that sort of thing here, this is going to be an ongoing problem for the
West and for countries like Australia.

And I suppose that all that the Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard can do and other Western
leaders do is to continually raise these issues and let China know that it's not OK. But the people
who monitor these things do say that if specific cases are raised then sometimes it does help those
who are being held in detention, sometimes for six months, for a year on end and their family know
nothing about their whereabouts.

ALI MOORE: Stephen McDonell in Beijing, many thanks.

STEPHEN MCDONELL: Good to talk to you.