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Wang
Jun 4, 2005, 23:53
Chinese diplomat asks Australia for protection
Sat Jun 4, 2005 8:56 AM ET

SYDNEY (Reuters) - A senior Chinese diplomat has sought Australian government protection for himself and his family, claiming he faces persecution if he goes home, Australian officials said on Saturday.

Analysts said Chen Yonglin's defection could muddy Canberra's relations with Beijing, its third-largest trading partner with annual exchanges now worth A$28.9 billion ($22.7 billion).

The Weekend Australian newspaper said Chen, 37-year-old consul for political affairs at China's consulate in Sydney, had applied for political asylum but officials had ruled this out.

It said Chen was now seeking a protection visa that would enable him, his wife Jin Ping, 38, and their six-year-old daughter to remain in Australia.

The newspaper said Chinese consular security staff were searching for Chen, who had walked out of the mission a week ago, saying he could no longer support China's persecution of dissidents.

"They are searching for me. I heard they are looking for me everywhere, especially in the Chinese community," it quoted him as saying.

"I feel very unsafe, so I seek protection."

A spokeswoman for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) told Reuters that the government knew of the matter but that it was a case for the Immigration Department.

"We are aware that an official from the Chinese consulate-general in Sydney has applied for a protection visa," the spokeswoman said.

CLOSER TRADE TIES SOUGHT

A spokeswoman for immigration officials said it was against policy to comment on individual cases for visas, but that if an application were filed, it would be given a fair hearing.

Chen's reported defection comes amid efforts by Australia to forge closer economic ties with China, which already spends billions of dollars annually on Australian iron ore, coal, wheat and other commodities.

Annual bilateral trade has quadrupled in the past decade, and the two countries are in early talks on a free trade agreement.

"The problem for the government is that if this were back in the old Cold War days, and a person had fled from the communist embassy, we would have welcomed the person with open arms as we did with the Petrov scandal 40 years ago," international affairs analyst Keith Suter told Sky News television.

"But now, of course, China is a major trading ally for Australia and we don't want to do anything that's going to be offending China in terms of its trade policies," Suter said.

In 1954, a senior Soviet diplomat in Australia, Vladimir Mikhailovich Petrov, defected along with his wife, Evdokia.

The defections led to an extensive inquiry into Soviet espionage in Australia. Moscow withdrew its embassy from Australia and expelled Australian diplomats.

According to the Weekend Australian, DFAT told Chen that his request for political asylum had been rejected but that he could apply for a protection visa.

Such a visa would entitle him to remain in Australia permanently.

The newspaper quoted Chen, who holds the rank of first secretary, as saying that he wanted to defect because he could no longer support his country's persecution of dissidents.

The diplomat was quoted as saying that he had been monitoring political dissidents, including members of the Falun Gong religious sect, over the past four years, but had not reported on them in protest against Beijing's policies.

http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=worldNews&storyID=2005-06-04T125645Z_01_SATURDAY-_RTRIDST_0_INTERNATIONAL-AUSTRALIA-CHINA-DEFECTOR-DC.XML

Wang
Jun 8, 2005, 15:06
Second China defector backs Australia spy claims
Tue Jun 7, 2005 9:16 PM ET

CANBERRA (Reuters) - A second Chinese man has made a bid for political asylum in Australia and backed claims by a defecting Chinese diplomat that Beijing has up to 1,000 spies operating across the country.
Hao Fengjun told Australian Broadcasting Corp. television late on Tuesday that he had worked for China's security service, known as 610, in the northern port city of Tianjin.

Hao said he traveled to Australia as a tourist in February and then applied for political asylum.

Hao's comments came after Chen Yonglin, a 37-year-old political affairs consul at China's consulate in Sydney, sought asylum saying spies were hunting him for aiding pro-democracy groups.

Hao said he supported claims made by Chen that Beijing operated a vast spy network.

"I worked in the police office in the Security Bureau and I believe that what Mr Chen says is true," Hao told Australian Broadcasting Corp.'s Lateline program through an interpreter.

"As far as I know, they have spies in the consulate, but they also have a network -- spies they've sent out. Like the National Security Bureau and the Public Security Bureau in China, they send out businessmen and students to overseas countries as spies. They also infiltrate the Falun Gong and other dissident groups."

Falun Gong is an amalgam of religions, meditation and exercises that the Chinese government considers an evil cult.

Hao told Lateline he was currently in Australia on a temporary visa while he waited for his refugee application to be decided by the country's immigration department. Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone was not immediately available for comment.

NO FEAR

Chen made his bid for political asylum public on Saturday when he told a Sydney rally to mark the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests that Beijing saw him as a threat because he offered help to democracy groups and Falun Gong.

Chen, who is in hiding with his wife, Jin Ping, 38, and six-year-old daughter, has written to Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer asking for a rare "territorial asylum visa" and applied for a protection visa through the immigration department.

China's Ambassador to Australia, Madame Fu Ying, on Monday laughed off Chen's claims about a Chinese spy network and fears that he could be kidnapped and sent home. Fu said Chen had no reason to be afraid about returning to China.

A spokeswoman for the Chinese Embassy said on Wednesday no further comment would be made on Hao's claims.

Both Hao and Chen said they would be persecuted by the Chinese government if they returned home.

"If I go back to China there's no doubt the Communist government will certainly persecute me. They know I have confidential information, some of it top secret, and I'll be severely punished," Hao said.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. embassy told Reuters on Tuesday Chen had also contacted a U.S. consulate in Australia about his situation, but she was unable to comment further.

Local media said Chen had asked if he could defect to the United States.


http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=worldNews&storyID=2005-06-08T011616Z_01_N07474018_RTRIDST_0_INTERNATIONAL-AUSTRALIA-CHINA-DEFECTOR-DC.XML

Wang
Jun 10, 2005, 02:21
China defector can stay - Australia minister
Thu Jun 9, 2005 09:18 AM ET

CANBERRA (Reuters) - A senior Australian minister said on Thursday that a Chinese diplomatic defector pleading for political asylum in Australia is in no danger of being sent home.
Chen Yonglin, a 37-year-old political affairs consul at China's Sydney consulate, has told Australian authorities he fears for his family's safety and would rather die than return to China.

"Mr Chen is in Australia, he is being dealt with in accordance with the ordinary process of Australian immigration law and he is at no risk of being sent back to China," Health Minister Tony Abbott, a close ally of Prime Minister John Howard, told reporters.

Howard himself tried to calm concerns that Chen's fate might be influenced by Canberra's booming trade and economic ties with Beijing.

"Let me simply say that, just as in relation to the U.S., we have steadfastly refused to mix trade with politics and strategy and national security -- so it is in relation to China, and I'm sure that our Chinese friends will know that," Howard told a business lunch in Sydney.

China, which is Australia's third-largest trading partner with annual trade worth almost A$29 billion (more than $22 billion), is in talks with Canberra on a free trade deal and a separate pact to import Australian uranium.

In a letter to Australia's Immigration Department in late May, the full text of which was released on Thursday by the minority Australian Greens party, Chen said his role at China's Sydney consulate persecuting Falun Gong practitioners had given him nightmares.

Falun Gong is an amalgam of religions, meditation and exercises that the Chinese government considers an evil cult.

"My spirit is severely distressed for my sin at working for the unjustified authority in a somewhat evil way and my hair turns white quickly in the last four years for frequent nightmares," Chen wrote.

RATHER DIE

Chen described Falun Gong as a cult with vulnerable and innocent members and said he had feared being forced to return home to continue monitoring Falun Gong affairs.

"I would rather die than be forced to do so ... I have no choice but to seek asylum in Australia," he wrote.

China has dismissed Chen's allegations and those of a second defector, Hao Fengjun, that China has an extensive spy network in Australia and that they were in danger for their statements.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao called the men's assertions "fabricated and lies."

"Sino-Australia relations should not pay a price for two such people and two such incidents," he said.

But Australia's opposition Labor called on the government to give protection to Chen and Hao.

Hao, who said he worked for a branch of the Chinese security service known as 610 has backed claims by Chen that Beijing has up to 1,000 spies operating across Australia.

The Immigration Department has said it is examining Chen's application for a protection visa, which is granted to asylum seekers under the U.N. Refugees Convention.

Howard said that about 1,000 Chinese applied to the Immigration Department for protection visas each year.

Chen has also applied to Foreign Minister Alexander Downer for a rare "territorial asylum visa," but Downer has discouraged this application for political asylum, urging Chen to pursue a protection visa instead.

But Greens party leader Bob Brown said the Australian government was just trying not to offend China.

"I have no doubt ... (the government) feels it will be less of an affront to China if some other form of visa is offered," Brown told Australian radio.

Chen, who is in hiding with his wife, Jin Ping, 38, and 6-year-old daughter Fangrong, made his political asylum bid public on Saturday when he spoke at a Sydney rally to mark the anniversary of the Chinese army's crushing of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests.

Hao told Australian television that he had worked for China's security service in the northern port city of Tianjin. He said he had traveled to Australia as a tourist in February and then applied for asylum.

An Immigration Department spokeswoman would not confirm or deny Hao's application.


http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=8744668

ralian
Jun 16, 2005, 17:41
By Associated Press CANBERRA, Australia --

A Chinese dissident seeking asylum in Australia claimed Wednesday he has been harassed by Beijing agents, the latest in a string of similar claims by Chinese defectors.

Earlier this month, a senior Chinese diplomat who defected from his Sydney post and is seeking asylum claimed Beijing has a network of up to 1,000 spies operating in Australia.
At least two other Chinese asylum seekers have supported the allegation, although experts say the number of spies is likely inflated and probably includes business representatives, students and even tourists who speak to officials in China after visiting or living in Australia.

On Wednesday, Yuan Hongbing, who fled China last year and has applied for a visa to stay in Australia, told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio he and his friends have been harassed and he has received a threatening letter.

"I was followed by people sometimes and I received a harassment letter," he said through a translator.

"Some of my friends also suffered some harassment, for example their car was destroyed by somebody unknown and some of them just received a dead cat," he added.

ralian
Jun 16, 2005, 17:44
Latest Chinese defectors urged to stay silent
June 14, 2005 - 12:14PM

Two Chinese defectors to Australia, the third and fourth to emerge in the past month, have been gagged by their lawyers from speaking publicly.

Professor Yuan Hongbing and his assistant Zhao Jing are seeking asylum in Australia, but Ms Zhao today said her lawyer had told her not to give interviews.

Likewise, Prof Yuan would not be speaking to the media, she said.

Victorian Greens spokesman Peter Job today said the immigration department had been considering the cases of Prof Yuan and Ms Zhao for almost a year.

News of their asylum bids follows claims this month by a Chinese diplomat and a Chinese policeman, also seeking asylum, that a vast network of Chinese spies is monitoring pro-democracy dissidents in Australia.

Mr Job said the immigration department must explain why it had taken so long to process the applications by Prof Yuan and Ms Zhao.

Prof Yuan is a writer and former Professor of Law at Beijing University who was imprisoned for six months in 1994 and released to exile in remote Guizhou Province, Mr Job said.

Prof Yuan's books were banned and his manuscripts destroyed and he was forbidden by authorities from writing any more, he said.

But, with the help of Ms Zhao, he continued to write and left China once he learned authorities were planning to arrest him again.

Mr Job said the handling of their cases had led him to ask whether the department was deliberately making it difficult for Chinese dissidents to defect to Australia.

"It's quite possible the Australian government is actively working to stop a Chinese dissident minority (from) establishing itself in Australia, to kowtow to the Chinese government for trade reasons," he said.

"Professor Yuan lodged his application in July 2004 and was interviewed by a department delegate on September 3.

"To date he has heard nothing. This is an extraordinary amount of time for an initial protection decision to take.

"Ms Zhao had her case accepted by the Refugee Review Tribunal in December last year but is still to be granted a protection visa."

Chinese diplomat Chen Yonglin sought political asylum after abandoning his post at the Chinese consulate-general in Sydney on May 26.

His asylum application was rejected and he was advised to apply for a protection visa, which is now being considered.

Last Tuesday, Chinese policeman Hao Fengjun revealed he lodged an application for refugee status in February.

Mr Hao said he was assigned to China's "610 office" where his job was to collate and analyse reports from underground operatives in Australia, and other countries.

- AAP