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Second meeting of the Australia-China human rights dialogue: 10-11 August 1998

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FA 108 11 August 1998


I am pleased to announce that Australia and China have agreed on a wide-ranging Joint Program of Cooperation to strengthen our developing human rights dialogue, the second meeting of which concluded in Canberra today.

The Joint Program of Cooperation includes attendance by a Chinese Government observer at next month’s meeting of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions in Jakarta, the provision of technical advice to China on how to submit reports to relvant United Nations Committees concerned with human rights and a detailed expansion of the Human

Rights Technical Assistance Program which was established last year.

This program will allow Chinese officials to attends courses in international human rights law at Australian universities, start specific programs to improve awareness of womens rights especially in remote Chinese areas, allow for the translation and publication of Australian and Chinese works on human rights and continue a judicial exchange program to allow Australian

experts to lecture at the Chinese National Judges College in Beijing.

These are just some of the concrete measures the Australian Government has taken as part of a constructive dialogue with China as part of our commitment to protecting and promoting the human rights standards set out in the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

W e aim to make a real difference on human rights issues rather than sloganeer and hector in a manner which makes no improvement to the quality of life for people in other nations. This approach is focused on making human rights issues an integral part of our bilateral relationships and focusing on measures that strengthen human rights institutions.

The dialogue with China demonstrates this approach well. Both delegations included experts from a range of relevant agencies which enabled detailed technical exchanges on ways in which human rights could be promoted and protected. Over the one-and-a-half days of talks they were able to discuss respective views and concerns on a broad range of human rights

issues in an open and constructive manner, and to agree on the Joint Program of Cooperation which makes clear the commitment of both sides to maintaining productive exchanges on human rights matters of concern.

Although Australia still has concerns about a range of human rights matters in China which were raised in the course of the dialogue, progress is being made in many areas. I am certain

that this dialogue will continue to play a constructive role. The third meeting of the dialogue is expected to be held next year in China.

The Chinese delegation has a series of further visits and meetings in Canberra and Sydney before they depart. The delegation will see a trial in progress in the NSW Supreme Court, visit Long Bay Gaol and call on the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission, the Australian Law Reform Commission and the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption. The _ _ Chinese delegation will also hold a round-table meeting in Canberra with Australian non-governmental organisations active on human rights matters.

The Chinese delegation was led by Mr Yang Jiechi, Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and included representatives from a range of Chinese government departments and agencies, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, the Supreme People’s Court and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The Australian delegation was led by Mr Kim Jones, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and included officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Attorney-General’s Department, the Australian Agency for International Development, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the Human Rights and

Equal Opportunity-Commission (HREOC )

Media Inquiries: Innes Willox: (02) 6277 7500 or 0419 206 890

Tony Melville: (02)6261 1555