KEVIN Rudd today strongly asserted Australia’s right to determine who enters the country amid the fallout over the visit by a woman China regards as a terrorist.
The Prime Minister defended the granting of a visa to Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer, a decision Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has conceded had angered China.
“The Government I lead is one where Australia makes decisions on who it issues visas to or not,” Mr Rudd said today.
The strongly worded statement of sovereignty comes during a difficult period in the Sino-Australian relationship, starting with the arrest of Australian Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu.
The Australian reported this morning that Beijing had snubbed Resources Minister Martin Ferguson while he was in China this week to sign a $50 billion gas deal.
Ambassador Geoff Raby’s failure to arrange top-level meetings for Mr Ferguson is understood to have been a reason he was recalled to Canberra for urgent talks.
Yesterday, Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop said the Government had failed to work constructively with China regarding the visit of Ms Kadeer.
“The Liberal Party is now saying that when it comes to Australia’s visa policy that we’ve got to get a permit slip from another country,” Mr Rudd said.
He said Australia’s relationship with China was challenging, and would be for some time, accusing the Opposition of using the Kadeer issue and Mr Hu’s arrest to play domestic politics.
“What we’ve seen instead from the alternative government of Australia is a determination to play domestic politics with this relationship on this and so many other aspects of it,” Mr Rudd said.
ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS IN EAST TURKISTAN Uyghur Foundation Stichting Oeigoeren Nederland Stichting Uighur Jurat Barat Stichting Uyghur Oost-Turkestan Uyghur Logo Nederlanders Holland Europe HUMAN RIGHTS Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Erkin Alptekin Rebiya Kadeer