News / Asia

Australia Urged to Sign Prisoner Exchange Deal with China

An Australian mining executive jailed in China for bribery and spying could soon be heading home as part of a prisoner exchange program.   The case of Stern Hu, a senior Rio Tinto negotiator who was jailed for 10 years in March 2010, caused a diplomatic rift between Canberra and Beijing, which are expected to soon finalize an prisoner exchange treaty.  

China has already signed the prisoner exchange treaty and now a powerful committee of lawmakers in Canberra is urging Australia to do the same.  The accord will now be submitted to the parliament.

The bilateral agreement would allow Chinese nationals held in Australian jails to seek repatriation and serve their sentences back home.  The same would apply for Australians incarcerated in China once the consent of both governments had been given.  Officials have warned the process could be lengthy.

There are an estimated 25 Australians imprisoned in China, including the former Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu, while a further 16 citizens are in detention awaiting trial or sentencing. Australia’s justice department in Canberra said it did not have an estimate of how many Chinese nationals are being held in Australian prisons.

Hu was jailed in March 2010 for accepting illegal payments and infringing commercial secrets.  Under the inmate exchange deal, Hu would be able to apply to return to Australia to serve out his 10-year sentence, which was at the time described as “very harsh” by the government in Canberra.

The case destabilized diplomatic ties between the two trading partners but the president of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, Stephen Keim, says any prisoner exchange agreement could allow Hu to be released early.

“It may well be that the Chinese would feel very badly about admitting that they were wrong in some way and agreeing to release him.  But if he is exchanged to Australia and Australia chooses to grant him parole or someway ameliorate the sentence then China would be able to say ‘well, that is really not our business, that is Australia’s business.’  So it may be a good way of getting around diplomatic difficulties that may be difficult to get around in a more direct way,” said Keim.

Relations between China and Australia have improved markedly since Hu was imprisoned.

Australian officials still raise concerns over China's treatment of ethnic minorities, questions of religious freedom and the crackdown on human rights activists. However those political disagreements have not adversely affected trade.

China is Australia’s largest trading partner and its appetite for commodities, most notably iron ore and coal, is helping to underwrite strong economic growth in Australia.

Keen not to offend Beijing, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard this week refused to meet exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama, who is considered by the Chinese to be a dangerous separatist.



You May Like

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid