Human rights: How to manage an effective dialogue
March 04 2019
Human rights is a part of the Australia-China relationship that sometimes struggles to get the attention given to developments in the economic and strategic realms. Yet it is no less pressing. Currently, Yang Hengjun, an Australian writer has been detained in China for more than a month without access to legal representation. Yang, held in detention at an undisclosed location in Beijing, has not been charged with any offence.
The Australian government has expressed growing concerns about human rights violations in China, including most notably, reports of the mass internment of up to a million ethnic Uighurs in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region in China’s northwest. Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the Australian government has ‘serious concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjiang.’ The Opposition Australian Labor Party shares these concerns, with Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong adding that ‘Labor is particularly concerned about reports of Australian residents feeling intimidated and unable to contact their family members [in Xinjiang].’
The question is: what is the best way to address human rights issues and manage an effective dialogue? An annual human rights dialogue behind closed doors, use of multilateral fora, or explicit public statements calling out China’s actions and for violations to be addressed?
Professor Jocelyn Chey AM, Visiting Professor at the University of Sydney and former Australian diplomat, Mr Richard Broinowski, commentator on public affairs and former Australian diplomat, and the Hon. Philip Ruddock, former Attorney-General and Australia's first Special Envoy for Human Rights, discussed this issue in a panel moderated by Australia-China Relations Institute (ACRI) Deputy Director Professor James Laurenceson, which was followed by a Q&A session with the audience.
Time: 6.00pm - 7.30pm
About the panellists:
Jocelyn Chey AM
Professor Jocelyn Chey is a Visiting Professor at the University of Sydney and a former Australian diplomat. 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 ACRI’s Advisory Board.
The Honourable Cr Philip Ruddock is Mayor of Hornsby Shire, elected in September 2017 after serving as Australia’s Special Envoy for Human Rights February 2016–October 2017 and a Member of the Australian Parliament September 1973–May 2016. He served continuously in the federal ministry and cabinet during the Howard Government, as Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs March 1996–October 2003, and then Attorney-General October 2003–November 2007. Mr Ruddock is the second longest serving Member of Parliament since Federation and Father of the House 1998-2016. He was a foundation member (formerly Chair) of the Parliamentary Amnesty Group 1974–2016 and a foundation member (formerly Chair) of Australian Parliamentarians Against the Death Penalty. Mr Ruddock chaired the Australia China Parliamentary Friendship Group 2013-2016. He was appointed chair of ACRI’s Advisory Board in 2017.
Richard Broinowski is a former Australian diplomat. He served as Ambassador to Vietnam, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Central American Republics and Cuba. He was the General Manager of Radio Australia as well as an Adjunct Professor in Media and Communications, first at the University of Canberra, then at the University of Sydney. In this capacity, he initiated a scheme to send young media students from several Australian universities to work as journalists in English-language newsrooms overseas. From 2014 to 2017, he was also President of the NSW Chapter of the Australian Institute of International Affairs. Mr Broinowski is a frequent commentator on public affairs on radio and television who speaks on national and international topics, including demystifying cross cultural relations, trade opportunities and communications.