An Australian governmental delegation, led by Dr. Geoff Raby, deputy secretary of the Australian Foreign Ministry, is expected to visit Tibet this week following the seventh China-Australia Human Rights dialogue held in Beijing on July 28, 2003.
“The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has assisted the Australian delegation with arrangements to visit Lhasa in Tibet following the conclusion of the Beijing program later this week, to witness the human rights situation there first hand,” China’s official news agency Xinhua reported on July 28, 2003.
The report did not specify the duration of the Australian delegation’s stay in Tibet.
The Australia-China bilateral human rights dialogue began in 1997. Assistant Foreign Minister Shen Guafang led the Chinese delegation to the current talk.
Shen was quoted by Xinhua as saying that the dialogue was “positive and constructive” and that “the two sides understood each other’s stances, and ironed out some differences.”
According to a joint statement issued after the talks, both sides recognized the “universality” of human rights and that all human rights are indivisible, interdependent and interrelated.
The two sides approved the Human Rights Joint Technical Cooperation Program for 2003-2004. The daylong dialogue was held in a hotel near Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, according to Australian media reports.
Following is the full text of the joint statement issued after the seventh China-Australian Human Rights dialogue on July 28, 2003.
“The ongoing process of constructive dialogue between China and Australia on human rights issues took another step forward in Beijing today with the holding of the Seventh China Australia Human Rights Dialogue. The Dialogue was established in 1997 to strengthen mutual understanding, discuss human rights issues and identify practical means of cooperation.
“This year the Chinese delegation was led by Mr. Shen Guofang, Assistant Foreign Minister, and included representatives of the Chinese Supreme People’s Court, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Justice, the United Front Work Department, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions and the All-China Women’s Federation. The Australian delegation was led by Dr. Geoff Raby, Deputy Secretary of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and included the president of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Mr. John von Doussa QC and officials from government departments responsible for human rights matters in Australia.
“The two sides have held friendly, in-depth discussions on a series of issues of common interest, including women’s and children’s rights, rights of ethnic minorities, judicial administration, civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights and cooperation with the UN human rights mechanism.
“Both sides agreed that the China-Australia relationship has been growing smoothly and bilateral exchanges and cooperation in all fields have been expanding. To further friendly cooperation between China and Australia serves the interests of the two peoples and is conducive to peace and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region. The commitment to the dialogue demonstrates the overall strength of our bilateral ties.
“Both sides reiterate their recognition and respect of the universality human rights, with the conviction that all human rights are indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. All countries, both developing and developed, are obliged to further promote and protect human rights in accordance with their own national conditions.
“Both sides believe that dialogue and exchanges in the field of human rights help to enhance mutual understanding, minimize differences, and facilitate mutual learning and common progress.
“The two sides approved the Human Rights Joint Technical Cooperation Program for 2003-2004 and expressed their wish to continue human rights technical cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual respect.
“The Chinese Foreign Minister, Mr. Li Zhaoxing, will meet with Dr. Geoff Raby and the Australian delegation.
“The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has assisted the Australian delegation with arrangements to visit Lhasa in Tibet following the conclusion of the Beijing program later this week, to witness the human rights situation there first hand.”