‘Respect’ Key to Australia-China Relationship, Says Senator

By Daniel Granger, Epoch Times
April 6, 2013 3:38 am Last Updated: April 7, 2013 3:40 am

The pillar of a good trade relationship is respect, says Federal Senator John Madigan, ahead of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s trip to China on April 5.

“If you have a relationship where you cannot express your view, it is not a relationship at all,” said Senator Madigan, federal member of the Democratic Labor Party for Victoria.

In an April 2 interview with NTD Television, Senator Madigan questioned the nature of Australia’s political relationship with China.

“China is an important trade partner of Australia, but for any relationship to be healthy, it needs to be based on respect,” said Senator Madigan.

His comments came as Ms Gillard prepared to make her 2nd trip to China as prime minister, leading a senior delegation including Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Trade Minister Craig Emerson. The delegation arrived in China on April 5 to attend the Boao Forum for Asia on Hainan Island.

Over the six day visit, Prime Minister Gillard will meet with her counterpart, newly installed President Xi Jinping, and will discuss the issues of trade, investment and security in the region. On the agenda is a deal which would allow the direct conversion of Australian dollars into Chinese currency, to streamline business ties between the two countries, according to the Australian newspaper.

Ms Gillard is also expected to raise the North Korea issue and may discuss China’s human rights record. But it is unknown how candid Ms Gillard can be with the Chinese regime on typically sensitive issues.

The human rights situation in China has been more visible on the Australian agenda in recent weeks as the Senate unanimously passed a motion on March 21 to help ban organ trafficking in China and other countries.

The motion endorsed by the Senate and introduced by Mr Madigan, highlights international illegal organ trafficking and recognises a significant body of evidence collected by the United Nations about the unethical practise in China.

Former Chinese vice health minister Huang Jeifu admitted in 2010 that between 1997 and 2008 China had performed more than 100,000 transplantations, with over 90 per cent of the organs being from executed prisoners. It is estimated that in China less than 10 per cent of organ transplants come from willing donors.

Public comment on the illegal organ trade in China is not generally forthcoming from Australian politicians in the major parties, but Senator Madigan was impressed that his fellow Senators passed the March 21 motion unanimously.

“It was great to see that so many people supported the motion,” he said. “All credit goes to them for doing it, because we know that sometimes politics, or quite often politics, comes before ethics.

“Turning a blind eye makes you in one sense complicit in these people’s misery and ultimate death from this abhorred practice. It is a violation of their human rights.”

Prime Minister Gillard will be in China through April 10.

With research by Jianguo Wu and additional reporting by Julia Huang.