Hu Jintao

Question of dissent

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 October, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 October, 2003, 12:00am


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It was good to see President Hu Jintao speaking to the Australian parliament.

Unfortunately some very negative comments have been appearing in the Australian media about the Chinese foreign minister's attempt to ensure that President Hu was not the target of the kind of dissent that President George W. Bush had to face the previous day.

We in Australia are a nation of only 22 million people, a drop in the bucket compared to China. However, President Hu's advisers should have prepared him for the dissent that is part and parcel of democracy.

President Hu could have upstaged President Bush by accepting the differences of opinion in parliament.

Unfortunately the opportunity is lost. Australia no doubt is grateful for China's friendship and the new trade deals, but would it not be better if our relationship could advance beyond mere trade?

As an Australian, I am ashamed of our human rights record in relation to the treatment of asylum seekers. However, let's not give up on improving human rights in both countries.

ANTHONY LEE, Corinda, Queensland, Australia