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Australia to End Agreement With China After Serious Concerns Over Human Rights Emerge

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The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has confirmed it will not renew an agreement signed with China after international human rights groups allege it allowed Beijing to abuse human rights internationally.

On May 25, AFP officials told the Senate that the agency would not renew its memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed with China’s National Commission of Supervision (NCS) in December 2018, which will expire at the end of this year.

Asked by Senator James Paterson on the basis of the AFP’s decision, Ian McCartney, Deputy Commissioner for the AFP, said there had been a change in the bilateral relationship with China.

“In effect, we didn’t see the requirement for that to continue,” McCartney said. “There was minimal interaction with that agency in relation to the work that we do.”

Human Rights Abuse Concern

Australia’s MOU with China raised concerns of Safeguard Defenders, an international human rights group, which said the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been trying to establish the legitimacy of its national watchdog as a global legal partner through such cooperation agreements.

The NCS in China is responsible for Xi Jinping’s reprehensive “FoxHunt operation” across 120 countries and regions, which violates the national and judicial sovereignty of countries across the world, and guilty of a crime against humanity through its Liuzhi system for enforced disappearances, according to Safeguard Defenders.

Epoch Times Photo
Ian McCartney, Deputy Commissioner for the AFP, confirmed the agency will not renew its agreement signed with China’s NCS. (Screenshot via The Epoch Times/YouTube)

Furthermore, in a 2022 report titled “110 OVERSEAS Chinese Transnational Policing Gone Wild,” the Spain-based NGO warned that the CCP has over 100 overseas police service stations in at least 53 countries worldwide. These outputs, in different names and under the surface of serving overseas Chinese, can be used by the communist regime to “harass, threaten, intimidate, and force targets to return to China for persecution.”

Based on a report titled “Transnational Repression Is a Growing Threat to Global Democracy”, released by Freedom House in February 2021, the CCP seeks to change international norms in the name of the “FoxHunt operation,” extending its targeting to political opponents and dissidents worldwide.

First Democratic Nation to Sign Such Agreement with China

After Denmark did not renew its previous MOU with China, Australia appears to be the only developed nation to maintain such an agreement.

“China has actively been trying to build legitimacy around the NCS as a counterpart in international judicial cooperation by entering into cooperative agreements,” reads a statement of Safeguard Defenders from May 25.

“Except for Australia and, for a brief period, the Danish Parliamentary Ombudsman, this has been successful only in a number of non-democratic States, who can best be described as ‘the usual suspects.’ It has since been trying to make inroads into democratic countries, the key area for where such legitimacy can be gained for this new entity.”

Epoch Times Photo
Senator James Paterson talking to AFP officials in the Senate. (Screenshot via The Epoch Times/YouTube)

Australia’s agreement with NCS, which is not a judicial or law enforcement body, but an extension of the CCP’s private police force Central Commission for Discipline Committee, is “a major win for China in its attempt to spread legitimacy for its recently created, entirely Party-run, body, and represents a clear threat against the international rule of law,” Safeguard Defenders argues.

AFP Denied Freedom of Information Request to View the Agreement

The AFP has also denied a Freedom of Information request by Safeguard Defenders to access the content of the agreement.

While the NGO was unsurprised by the denial, it showed concern over the AFP’s lack of understanding about its Chinese partner.

“In their response, the AFP showed, in writing, extensive incompetence and ignorance of their understanding of the NCS, and even referred to it as a law enforcement body, which, even clearly spelled out in Chinese law, it is not,” reads the statement.

Safeguard Defenders appealed the AFP’s decision to exempt the MOU from publication on Oct. 7, providing the AFP with evidence on the standing of crimes against humanity by the NSC on no less than three different counts.

“We argue that the existence of this MOU, in particular, if independent verification of its terms is refused in applying for cited exemptions, poses greater prejudice to the Commonwealth’s international relations and standing, in particular considering its commitment to promoting and defending the international rules-based order and universal human rights.”

Former CCP Diplomat Welcomes the Change

Chen Yonglin, a former Chinese diplomat who defected to Australia in 2005, welcomes the AFP’s stop cooperating with NCS.

Epoch Times Photo
Chen Yonglin, a former Chinese diplomat who defected to Australia and quit the CCP in 2005, spoke at a rally in Sydney in 2015. (Shar Adams/The Epoch Times)

“Thanks to Sen. Paterson for his relentless efforts, Australia finally ceased its law enforcement cooperation with China assisting China’s Fox Hunter Operation,” Chen wrote in a Twitter post on May. 28.

Chen agreed with Safeguard Defenders’ argument that anti-corruption is not the real purpose of the Fox Hunter Operation.

“Corruption among CCP officials is a common phenomenon,” he told The Epoch Times on May. 29. “The CCP’s Fox Hunter is not just to catch corrupt officials, but more importantly to target critics.”

“The NCS is actually another brand of the CCDI… working with the AFP as a party body; it’s not just about anti-drugs and anti-money laundering. It’s about fulfilling the CCP’s objectives and targeting dissident voices and groups that are not good for the Party.”

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