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Australian foreign minister says she raised human rights, Tibet, during China visit

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(TibetanReview.net, Dec22’22) – Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong has said Dec 21 that she discussed human rights issues, including Tibet, during her meeting with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing on Dec 21. It was not clear what specific human rights issues she discussed and what the Chinese reaction was during what was the first official visit to China by an Australian government minister since Nov 2019.

Senator Wong confirmed she also discussed human rights issues, including in Tibet, Hong Kong and the treatment of the Uyghur population in Xinjiang, reported the abc.net.au Dec 21.

“Australia believes human rights are universal,” she has said.

The AFP Dec 21. likewise, quoted her as saying she expressed Australia’s “principled view about the observance and respect for human rights, and that applies in terms of our views about Xinjiang or Tibet or Hong Kong.”

The Australian foreign minister’s trip was seen as a sign of thawing relations between Beijing and Canberra after years of tension over multiple issues, notably Chinese influence operations overseas, Beijing’s actions in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet, and trade, the report said.

Wong has also said she discussed the cases of Australian journalist Cheng Lei, detained by Chinese authorities in Aug 2020, and Chinese-born Australian Yang Jun, detained in Jan 2019, both jailed for alleged spying.

She has spoken of having called for the two to be “reunited with their families as soon as possible,” and told reporters during her news conference that she pushed for consular officials to be given access to Cheng and Yang.

“We advocated for a range of things,” Wong has said after the 90-minute meeting.

She has said both parties had agreed to “maintain high-level engagement” and “further dialogue” in multiple areas including coal deposits, trade, human rights, and regional and international security.

Senator Wong’s visit was officially undertaken to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations with China. The two foreign ministers attended the unveiling of a “shourifeng” — a special envelope also referred to as a “cover” — to commemorate the anniversary after their formal bilateral meeting.

Also, Chinese President Xi Jinping has exchanged congratulatory messages with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Governor General David Hurley of Australia to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations, the latest sign of warming ties between the two major trade partners.

“We will cooperate where we can, disagree where we must and engage in the national interest,” Bloomberg.com Dec 21 quoted Albanese as saying.

Xi, on his part, told Australian leaders that China was ready to advance relations with Canberra based on mutual respect and win-win principles during the “ice-breaking” visit to fix the damaged ties, reported China’s official globaltimes.cn Dec 21.

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