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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid