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

New England Bears Brunt of US Blizzard

Boston, surrounding region grapple with as much as 3 feet of snow, coastal flooding; leaders in New York, spared most severe weather, criticized for being overly cautious More

China Lifts Lid on Sale of Fake Goods Online

A recent survey found nearly 60 percent of a random sample of items bought from Taobao were fake More

Upward Aims to Create Old-girls Network in Silicon Valley

Lisa Lambert, an executive with Intel Corp.'s venture-capital unit, responds to the gender-disparity debate by creating a new social organization 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid