Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Remarks

China News Service: The 47th Session of the Human Rights Council deliberated on the Third Cycle of Universal Periodic Review on the human rights conditions in Australia. The representative of China criticized human rights problems in Australia. Russia, Syria and the UN Refugee Agency also expressed their concerns. Australian media commented that "the strongest public criticism came from China". What is your take on that?

Zhao Lijian: China's criticism is the strongest because there is solid evidence for Australia's numerous human rights violations.

The systemic discrimination and hate crimes targeting African Australians, Asian Australians and other minorities as well as Muslims and Indigenous people are very serious in Australia. Historically, Australia committed genocide and forced labor against the Indigenous people, which led to massacre and enslavement. The Indigenous population ranged from 750,000 to one million before colonization. But it fell to 74,000 in the 1930s. The languages and cultural rights of the Indigenous people were deprived cruelly. From 1910 to 1970, the Australian government adopted the White Australia policy and assimilation policy. It established English residential schools where the Indigenous students were forced to go so that they were separated from their families and their groups. In the schools, the students were banned from speaking their Indigenous languages, which brought 110 out of the 300-plus languages to the verge of extinction. Australia forced the adoption of nearly 100,000 Indigenous children in white families or specialized institutions to cut their language and cultural ties with their original groups, making them a "stolen generation".

Even till this day, the Indigenous Australians are living in dire situations. From 2018, the average unemployment rate of the Indigenous people is around 20%, nearly four times that of the national average. The average life expectancy of Indigenous Australians is 7.8 to 8.6 years shorter than that of non-Indigenous people. The infant and child mortality rate is twice that of other groups. By March 2020, Indigenous people account for nearly 30% of the incarcerated in Australia, far higher than the proportion of Indigenous population.

In addition, Australia set up off-shore detention centers in third countries, where a large number of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers are forcibly detained for a long time or indefinitely with their basic human rights gravely violated. Australian troops committed serious war crimes in their overseas military operations in Afghanistan and other places. But they get away unpunished.

While turning a blind eye to its own human rights abuses, Australia points fingers at other countries' human rights conditions based on lies and rumors. This fully exposes Australia's hypocrisy on human rights issues. The Australian side should stop attack and smear other countries under the human rights pretext, do some soul-searching and resolve its own human rights issues well.

The Paper: The permanent missions of Canada and Australia in Geneva recently held a video conference with the theme of strengthening international cooperation to oppose the use of arbitrary detention in state-to-state relations, saying that arbitrary detention aimed at coercing other countries is unacceptable. Do you have a comment?

Zhao Lijian: Speaking of arbitrary detention, the Meng Wanzhou incident is a textbook case in point. By detaining Ms. Meng, a Chinese citizen who hasn't violated any Canadian law, Canada is acting openly as an accomplice as the US works to suppress Huawei and other Chinese hi-tech companies. This is exactly arbitrary detention aimed at coercing other countries. The HSBC internal documents submitted recently by Ms. Meng to the Canadian court once again prove that the so-called fraud charges by the US against her is purely groundless fabrication out of thin air. This further exposed the nature of this incident, which is political persecution. This is not the time for empty slogans. Canada should clearly see its mistake, end the arbitrary detention of the Chinese national immediately and allow Ms. Meng to return to China safe and sound at an early date.

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Commonwealth of Australia
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