Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Australian FM to address China camps issue



Australian FM to address China camps issue

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne looks on in a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington, DC, on October 1. MARK WILSON/AFP

Australian FM to address China camps issue

Australia’s concerns over internment camps in China’s far west, where up to a million people are being held without charge, will be raised this week when the country’s foreign minister visits Beijing, she said Tuesday.

Marise Payne said she will register “serious concerns” over the huge facilities in Xinjiang, where hundreds of thousands of Uighurs and other mainly-Muslim minorities are detained in what activists describe as political re-education camps.

The visit is the first by an Australian foreign minister in almost three years, as Canberra and Beijing seek to move past a period of awkward diplomatic relations.

“Obviously we have a very substantial relationship, and it works in the interests of both sides and we’re committed to building on our comprehensive strategic partnership,” Payne told national broadcaster ABC.

While China is Australia’s largest trading partner, ties between the two governments have been strained in recent years over allegations Beijing was interfering in domestic politics and using donations to gain access.

But amid a growing trade spat between the US and China, Payne’s visit is seen as an opportunity for Canberra to leverage its economic relationship.

Payne said her government did “have serious concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjiang” and would raise the issue with her opposite number Wang Yi while she is in Beijing on Thursday and Friday.

“There’ll be statements made in the (UN) Human Rights Council this week, and I will pursue matters in the course of my discussions in an appropriate way,” she told Australian broadcaster ABC.

China is expected to be grilled about the camps as it undergoes its periodic review by the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday.

Beijing has defended the facilities, saying they are “vocational education and training centres” and are part of its efforts to combat terrorism in the region.

Australian foreign affairs officials have said that three Australians were detained in camps in Xinjiang last year before being released.

Canberra has also been critical about growing Chinese influence in the Pacific islands, which it views as its backyard, via aid programmes as part of a “soft diplomacy” push.

Some Chinese investments and land purchases in Australia have meanwhile been knocked back over “national interest” reasons, prompting Beijing to accuse Canberra of being biased.

MOST VIEWED

  • Municipal hall releases map detailing colour coded Covid risks by commune

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng released an official map detailing the red, yellow and dark yellow zones within the city under the new lockdown orders for Phnom Penh announced on April 26. The designation of red, dark yellow and yellow corresponds to areas with high,

  • Phnom Penh unveils rules for post-lockdown transition

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a set of detailed guidelines for the seven days to May 12 after the capital emerges from lockdown at the onset of May 6. In the 14-page document signed by municipal governor Khuong Sreng released on the evening of May 5, the

  • SBI LY HOUR Bank Launches Cross Border Money Transfer Service between Cambodia and Vietnam on RippleNet, utilizing DLT

    SBI LY HOUR Bank Plc and Hanoi-based Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPBank) on Friday launched the first Cambodia-Vietnam money transfer service in real currency via RippleNet, provided by SBI Ripple Asia Co Ltd to provide safe, fast and convenient services. SBI LY HOUR

  • Gov’t issues guidelines as lockdown nears end

    The government has issued a five-page set of instructions to be enforced when the three-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province ends on May 6. According to an announcement signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 4, the instructions cover a

  • Cambodia ready to exit LDC status

    Cambodia is well-prepared to minimise economic risks when it graduates from its Least Developed Countries status, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Commerce on May 7. Four LDCs – Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh and Nepal – met at a virtual workshop last week to explore potential

  • Tottenham Hotspur to wear ISF Cambodia logo on jerseys in match against Sheffield United

    Last year, the Indochina Starfish Foundation (ISF) – an NGO providing education to underprivileged children in Cambodia – made global headlines with its “socially distanced” football initiative. This year, a world-class football club – Tottenham Hotspur FC – will wear special edition jerseys to show their support for ISF