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Thursday, 12 December 2002
Page: 8180


Senator Nettle asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 19 November 2002:

(1) During the Asia Pacific Cooperation Summit, in October 2002, did the Minister raise the issue of the Chinese Government's detention, torture and human rights violations of Falun Gong practitioners; if not, why not.

(2) During discussion in the Australia-China Human Rights Dialogue, will the Minister raise the issue of the Chinese Government's detention, torture and human rights violations of Falun Gong practitioners; if not, when will the Minister raise the issue.


Senator Hill (Minister for Defence) —The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) I could not attend the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation meeting in October 2002 owing to other commitments related to the tragic events in Bali.

(2) In August 2002, when the last round of the Australia-China Human Rights Dialogue was held in Canberra, I met the leader of the Chinese delegation, Mr Wang Guangya. During their meeting I expressed concern about China's treatment of Falun Gong practitioners.

The Dialogue itself is held at Vice-Ministerial level. The Australian delegation is led by a Deputy-Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. At the last round of the Dialogue, in Canberra in August 2002, Australia expressed concern about China's treatment of the Falun Gong and China's imprisonment of individuals for exercising internationally accepted civil rights. Australia also expressed concern over the extra-judicial nature of the practice of re-education through labour and the continued prevalence of torture. Australia urged China to ratify the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights as soon as possible, and with a minimum of reservations. The Government anticipates Australia will continue to raise concerns about the treatment of Falun Gong practitioners at the next round of the dialogue.