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HomeWorld NewsPoll Finds Australians Prioritising Human Rights Concerns Above Trade Relations With China

Poll Finds Australians Prioritising Human Rights Concerns Above Trade Relations With China

Two-thirds of Australians prioritize human rights over Australia’s trade with China, according to a recent poll conducted by Essential Research from Aug. 16 to 20. The poll asked respondents about China’s human rights abuses, including violations against the people of Hong Kong, Tibet, Uyghurs, and forced labor cases in Tibet and Uyghur areas. The Australian Government is currently pursuing a trade re-engagement with China following a period of tariffs affecting imports and exports. The poll found that 48 percent of Australians believe that Australia should only re-engage in trade relations with China if conditions for human rights abuse accountability are set in place. Younger people (18 to 34 years old) are more likely to hold this view compared to those aged 55 and over. The inclusion of these conditions in trade negotiations was the most popular answer across all states and demographics. Over half of Labor, Coalition, and Greens voters would want human rights accountability included in upcoming negotiations. Around 18 percent of respondents said they would not support a resumption of trade relations due to China’s human rights failings, with women and minor party voters more likely to hold this view. Another 18 percent think Australia should re-engage in trade relations with China despite their human rights abuses, with men, older people (55 and over), and those with a university education more likely to hold this view. The remaining 16 percent were unsure. The poll was conducted ahead of the 12th annual Tibet Lobby Day organized by Australia Tibet Council, where Tibetans in Australia speak directly to Australian Parliamentarians about ongoing human rights violations in Tibet. The poll results are not surprising to Zoe Bedford, the Executive Officer of Australia Tibet Council, who expressed disappointment that the Australian Government is rewarding Chinese Government officials with trade deals instead of issuing Magnitsky sanctions for their human rights abuses. The U.S. Government recently imposed visa sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for pursuing forced assimilation of children in Tibet. A group of U.N. human rights experts released a report highlighting the residential school system for Tibetan children, which is contrary to international human rights standards. The U.N. experts estimated that around a million children of the Tibetan minority are being affected by China’s policies aiming to assimilate them culturally, religiously, and linguistically. The experts expressed alarm at the forced assimilation policy and oppressive actions against Tibetan educational, religious, and linguistic institutions. The Tibet Lobby Day delegates called on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and allied G20 leaders to release a joint statement of concern supporting the U.N.’s investigation into the separation of up to one million Tibetan children from their families. They also called for the preservation and promotion of Tibetan language and upholding constitutional and statutory protections. Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong acknowledged the government’s concerns about Tibet’s human rights, including the erosion of rights and freedom and the disturbing reports of children being separated from their families. She stated that the government is advocating for these issues and working on a review of anti-slavery legislation.

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