Australia, China and human rights – is a step change needed?

September 18 2019

In recent years, actions taken by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) affecting the rights of both its own citizenry and foreign nationals have heightened international concerns, including in Australia.

Some examples include the PRC’s crackdown on its Turkic Muslim minority in the northwest province of Xinjiang; intimidation tactics employed in the face of the deepening political crisis in Hong Kong and government support for counter-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and overseas; and the months-long detentions and vague charges levelled at Australian citizen Yang Hengjun and Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, all the while without providing them access to lawyers or families.

The Australian government has been increasingly outspoken about its concerns via public statements from senior ministers and in multilateral fora. But is this enough?

The Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS:ACRI) welcomed Professor Jocelyn Chey AM, Adjunct Professor at the Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture at Western Sydney University and former Australian Consul General to Hong Kong; and Dr Michael Clarke, Associate Professor at the National Security College at the Australian National University to discuss the efficacy of Australia’s responses to date and explore whether a step change is needed.

The panel was moderated by UTS:ACRI Acting Director Professor James Laurenceson.

Time: 6.00pm - 7.30pm


About the panellists:

Jocelyn Chey AM

Professor Jocelyn Chey is an Adjunct Professor at the Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture at Western Sydney University and a former Australian Consul General to Hong Kong. Professor Chey moved to Canberra in 1973 when Australia first established diplomatic relations with China and for more than 20 years she worked on Australia-China relations in the Departments of Trade and Foreign Affairs. She was posted three times in China and Hong Kong, concluding with an appointment as Consul-General in Hong Kong (1992-1995). She was the key administrative officer in the Australia-China Council at the time that it was founded in 1979. Professor Chey is a frequent speaker and lecturer on Chinese affairs. She was awarded an Australia-China Council Medal for contributions to the development of relations between Australia and China in November 2008. She is a Fellow of the Institute of International Affairs and a member of UTS:ACRI’s Advisory Board.

Michael Clarke

Dr Michael Clarke is an Associate Professor at the National Security College at the Australian National University, and Director of the ANU-Indiana University Pan-Asia Institute. He is an internationally recognised expert on the history and politics of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Chinese foreign policy in Central Asia, Central Asian geopolitics, and nuclear proliferation and non-proliferation. Dr Clarke also regularly provides expert media commentary on Uyghur/Xinjiang and Chinese foreign policy-related issues to national and international media and has published commentary with Foreign Policy, The Wall Street Journal, The National Interest, CNN, BBC News, South China Morning Post, The Age, The Australian, and The Diplomat amongst others. He has in the past also provided advice and testimony to the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission on Chinese policy in Xinjiang and China’s foreign policy in Central Asia and Afghanistan.

Event Gallery


Event Information
September 18 2019
6:00 PM
UTS Chancellery
Level 4a, UTS Tower Building
15 Broadway
Ultimo NSW 2007