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

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
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.


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