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11-08-09, 01:40

Posted 4 hours 50 minutes ago
Updated 4 hours 2 minutes ago

Stephen Smith says Chinese officials were entitled to ask the National Press Club to cancel today's speech by exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer.

Ms Kadeer will address the National Press Club from 12:30pm AEST today in a speech which will also be streamed live on ABC News Online.

The Chinese Government tried to stop Ms Kadeer's visit to Australia and the Press Club says it met with Chinese officials who tried to explain why Ms Kadeer was "not credible".

China has accused Ms Kadeer of instigating ethnic riots in the country's west.

The Greens say the Government should rebuke the Chinese for trying to block Ms Kadeer's speech and for their earlier attempts to prevent the screening of a film about her life at the Melbourne film festival.

But Mr Smith says there is nothing wrong with diplomats expressing their concerns.

"Embassies, diplomats, officials are entitled to put views in Australian society, but when they put those views, those views have to be put appropriately," Mr Smith said.

"They can be put firmly, but they need to be put politely and appropriately."

But Greens leader Bob Brown says the Government should not allow a foreign country to try to suppress free speech in Australia.

"We need to have our Australian Government standing up for the democratic rights and freedoms that we hold dearly in Australia and not being cowed by the Chinese authorities," Senator Brown said.

The National Press Club says it did not feel under pressure from the Chinese Government to cancel Ms Kadeer's address.

The club's chief executive, Maurice Reilly, says a Chinese official met the club's board last week to set out his government's opposition to Ms Kadeer's speech.

Mr Reilly says the club listened respectfully but decided to proceed with the address.

"The Press Club and the board have a longstanding policy of 40 years or more that they decide who speaks at the Press Club, and they're quite free of outside influences, although we respect people's opinions about the diversity of opinions that we put up," Mr Reilly said.

Ms Kadeer has met several MPs from all political parties while in Canberra.

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Bookmark stories, video and audio clips you may want to access later.Comments (104)
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ABC (Moderator):
11 Aug 2009 10:59:40am

What do you think of Bob Brown's comments that the Government should "stand up" for free speech in Australia?

Agree (1) Alert moderator

11 Aug 2009 11:08:19am

Bob Brown's bang on the money and Mr Smith should have finished his statement by saying 'and they should expect to be told to take a hike'! I'm glad the press club showed some balls and have allowed this speech to go ahead.

Agree (2) Alert moderator

11 Aug 2009 11:09:17am

How can there be free speech when the people who own this country's major newspapers could comfortably fit inside a Fiat Bambino ?
Its an illusion , the media controls what it deems to be acceptable to print .

Agree (1) Alert moderator

11 Aug 2009 11:09:33am

I'd be careful if I was Bob Brown... once the PRC has bought out our major companies and owns Australia by proxy, he may find they have long memories.

Agree (0) Alert moderator

11 Aug 2009 11:12:41am

But how free does Bob want free speech to be in Australia ?

We must remember that sometimes there is a very fine line separating free speech from inciting terrorism.

And sometimes someone like an innocuous grandmother can be capable of delivering both.

Agree (0) Alert moderator

11 Aug 2009 11:13:47am

Seems to me that is exactly what the government did; they defended both China's right of reply and the right of Ms Kadeer to speak publically. If Mr's Brown's argument were accepted it would mean that only those "we" agree with would be heard!

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11 Aug 2009 11:14:56am

I support Brown's comments. Remember that when President Hu came to address the Parliament, the Chinese made very sure that an incident such as Brown's challenging President Bush in the Parliament was never going to happen with Hu. Smith is merely diplomatically saying that foreign diplomats have the right to put their views "politely" to the appropriate people. They did that, were listened to and a choice made by the NPC. That is also free speech. The hacking of the MIFF site was not. Yes we need to stand by our values and model without hypocrisy our approach to discussion, debate and dissent.

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11 Aug 2009 11:07:00am

As usual, China whines and moans about Australia "interfering" in internal Chinese affairs, but the moment someone speaks out against the Chinese government, they have no problem "interfering" in anyone else's internal affairs.

What *is* it with these dictatorial, two-bit tyrannical regimes that think that just because they force their own people to walk a certain way at gunpoint, they can do it anywhere they like. Are they too ignorant to realise that they make themselves look absolutely ludicrous when they try?

Agree (0) Alert moderator

11 Aug 2009 12:14:44pm

While I support all the comments about the right to free speech etc, I think its drawing a very long bow to claim that the Chinese are interfering in Australian internal affairs here.

Their issue is with Kadeer's speeches, which are about the plight of the Uighur in Xinjiang. In other words, Chinese matters, not ours.

Agree (0) Alert moderator

11 Aug 2009 12:20:10pm

What is it about the Australian Government you ask?

Oh, were you not aware that the ALP is planning to filter the Internet for Australians in much the same way that China filters the Internet for it's citizens.

It's hardly surprising that Stephen Smith defended the rights of the Chinese government considering the plans of his government colleagues.

One also wonders at the presence of Chinese Government officials "observing" at the recent ALP gabfest.

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China Man:
11 Aug 2009 11:07:34am

Why is it that Australians hate everything about China, except for its money (when it is transferred into Australian bank accounts, that is!)

Agree (0) Alert moderator

11 Aug 2009 11:25:48am

I love the Chinese, i think they are amazing people.... and that is another reason why I want to make it clear that the Chinese Government is NOT ok.

Australian dont dislike Chinese people as far as I can see.... they dislike the totalitarian regime in China which is abusive and does not support the freedom of its people.

If China does not want Australia interfering with its processes then Australia sure doesnt want China trying to stomp on freedom in our country.

The Chinese government cannot last much longer in this world of free-thinkers... their days are numbered!

Agree (1) Alert moderator

11 Aug 2009 11:30:03am

I suggest that Australians do not hate China.
Friends actually have an obligation to point out how ones behaviour impacts on ongoing relationships.
China needs to get the message.

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silk route:
11 Aug 2009 11:32:23am

speak for yourself buddy, I love China, I have been there many times, even to Xinjiang and other 'out of the way' provences, it is a fascinating place, han Chinese and minorities alike - it has many fantastic, generous and hospitable people.

So tell me, payong, why do you make such an outragious claim

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11 Aug 2009 11:35:55am

I don't think that's right. I like a lot of things about China. But sometimes the Chinese government's behaviour is not appropriate.

Agree (0) Alert moderator

11 Aug 2009 11:36:57am

Who hates China? I love China and the Chinese people. I *despise* the tyrannical regime that oppresses them and crushes their neighbours.

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Flavian Hardcastle:
11 Aug 2009 11:37:21am

Why is it that China is trying to apply its censorship policy in Australia?

Agree (0) Alert moderator

11 Aug 2009 11:39:37am

Do they? Was it not Australia who first extended diplomatic relations to China?
I dont perceive their to be any hate in Australia towards the Chinese. The coalition has been a little too forward in questioning government ties with China not because they hate them just as a way of attacking a very popular government. This is sad but it has proven to highly ineffective if the poll results are any indication. I think though that some elements within China are their own worst enemies. By launching cyber attacks or by officially asking for a person like this or the deli lama not to be heard they effectively guarantee that more people will listen to what is said. They need to learn that any publicity is good publicity for these people. The way to handle this is to simply issue an official statement along the lines of the Chinese government does not consider this person important enough to comment upon. Australians apaty toward all that does not directly affect them is after all legendary.

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11 Aug 2009 11:44:33am

As an Australian citizen: I don't hate China. I'm quite happy to live with and around people who hold Chinese culture near and dear. I will fight tooth and nail against human rights abuses though, because I love everyone, not just Chinese.

Rather than unquestioningly swallowing the line "Australians hate everything about China", please ask the people who are polluting your mind to justify their position. Apply some critical thinking yourself and come to the realisation that the rest of the world isn't evil or out to get you, and has valid concerns with the track history of the Chinese government.

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11 Aug 2009 11:07:41am

Big difference between German and Australian government when dealing with China... One has a self-respect and independence - the other...

Agree (0) Alert moderator

11 Aug 2009 11:27:18am

i dont know about this... can you elaborate ?

Agree (0) Alert moderator

11 Aug 2009 11:07:56am

One would expect little else from one of Chairman Rudd's front benchers.

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11 Aug 2009 12:02:32pm

Maybe you could enlighten me to any time while in office for 11 years the Liberal/Nationals did anything inspiring or anything at all for the free speech of the Uighur's or any other dissenting voice within China.

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11 Aug 2009 11:10:10am

On one side you have the politicians saying "but China has lots of lovely lovely money! We must suck up to them constantly so we can get some!" and they close their eyes to every atrocity. On the other side you have the people who say "But China doesn't like her, OF COURSE we must take her side against that horrible empire", with no idea of whether she actually is agitating violence.

Who do you believe?

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Flavian Hardcastle:
11 Aug 2009 11:36:12am

Well I do know that unlike China, she isn't trying to censor the other side of the story.

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11 Aug 2009 11:16:43am

Mr Brown like Ms Kadeer is entitled to state his view, politely and forcefully.

The Australian Government should listen to everyone and act in the best interest of Australia ie Brown says stand up; China says no to Ms Kadeer and the government needs to say, politely and forcefully, "Thank you Mr Ambassador, everyone is entitled to express a view, we do NOT CENSOR free speech."

My view is that anyone who fears free speech has something to hide.

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11 Aug 2009 11:18:03am

Bob Brown is absolutely correct.

Thank you Bob Brown for doing what Smith should have done, that is, Yes foreign governments may express concerns through diplomatic channels, but the proper role of a foreign minister is not to defend the point of view of a foreign country against the values of his own country.

Diplomatic channnels should not be used to attempt to control the domestic activities of citizens of another country by co-opting the government of that country in to the suppression of the freedoms of its own citizens.

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11 Aug 2009 11:38:43am

If free speech is the issue why not invite the ambassador to speak next week and present his view?

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Flavian Hardcastle:
11 Aug 2009 11:55:20am

hmmmm hat's a good question. But as we've seen at the MIFF, the Chinese aren't interested in telling their side of the story. They just want to censor the other side of the story.

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11 Aug 2009 12:03:16pm

hmmmm, I didn't mention free speech.

But those who do not agree with the Press Club's giving this particular person a forum can exercise their right by not watching or listening to the broadcast.Since the intention seems to be to go further than that by stopping everyone else having the choice to tune in or out, that becomes a suppression of everyone else's freedom of speech, which includes the freedom to hear the opinions of others.

Agree (0) Alert moderator

11 Aug 2009 12:33:31pm

If PRChina wants to exercise free speech and speak about its position on the Uighur people, or on Rebiya Kadeer, why not allow a delegation of reporters into China to report directly on the facts and to corroborate the claims made by China on the Uighur issue? If not, why not?

Agree (0) Alert moderator

11 Aug 2009 11:24:10am

China should be free to express its opinion, as is our government's right to not comply. We would expect our diplomats to express concerns over issues that we fell our not in our own countries' interest, so why shouldn't they?

Ms. Kadeer's appearance is going ahead, the film went ahead, and several politicians have spoken to her. so I can't see how Brown can say that the government is cowed by the Chinese, on this issues anyway.

But if the CHinese hadn't made so much fuss about her, and drawn attention to her cause, then I wouldn't now be tuning in to hear her, at 12.30 today. THey gave her great publicity!

Agree (0) Alert moderator

11 Aug 2009 11:24:19am

Oh, for sure Bob. We should summon the Chinese Ambassador over this outrage.
The Press Club have a right to invite Rebiya Kadeer to speak. The Cinese have a right to express their dipleasure. Bob Brown has a right to ponfiticate from the sidelines secure in the knowlege that he has nothing to lose from irritating the Chinese because he's never going to have to deal with a real foreign policy issue anyway. Long live democracy!

Agree (0) Alert moderator

11 Aug 2009 12:03:23pm

The National Press Club should invite the Chinese Ambassador to give a speech too, and answer questions from the media.

Agree (0) Alert moderator

11 Aug 2009 12:42:44pm

If the Chinese are interested in an open and frank discussion with the media, I suggest they start at home, they've hardly demonstrated an interest in honest discussions on any other issue.
People want to hear Kadeer talk, I've seen no such interest in hearing the lies and deceptions peddled by the PRC.

Agree (0) Alert moderator

11 Aug 2009 11:25:20am

People should never fear their Government. Governments should fear their people.

The fact that the Chinese government attempting to dictate to the bastion of free speech in another, quite small, country speaks volumes for their attitude and tactics.

Bob Brown is correct.

Stephen Smith is right in his statement about diplomatic niceties, but has missed the whole view and therefore fails to stand up for Australia or international decency. China requires others to cowtow. If they do not, then the cyber attacks, organised student distruptions, random trade retaliations follow. Its approach to diplomacy is straight from the 13 century. It attempts at all costs to crush discent internally and externally.

We may have to trade with this regime, but I see no reason to kneel before them. Mr Rudd and Mr Smith may desire to do so but a great unspoken mass of Australians never will. We may have our failings and shortcommings, but a funtional democracy is always eons ahead of autocratic despotism, irrespecitve of its supposed growth or economic power. One day China will be a democracy, the grass roots are already appearing, but only if at every turn we constantly rebuke the current regimes behaviour and show the better alternatives.

Agree (0) Alert moderator

11 Aug 2009 11:25:45am

Is there anybody that "Australia" would try to prevent speaking in another country?

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Roger Vella Bonavita:
11 Aug 2009 11:27:46am

I am becoming a tad annoyed with China. Its time they were told in no uncertain terms that Australia is a democratic state while the chinese regime represents only itself. We decide what films we see and who comes to our country and what they do here - not Beijing. Australians are not impressed either with the way the RIO manager has been kept largely incommunicado for weeks and described as guilty before facing a court of law from the outset. We enjoy freedom of speech and a free press here and no one, not even Chinese spokesmen, should question our right to express concerns about the way our nationals are treated in CVhina or elsewhere. They should be reminded too that in civilised countries individuals may be accused of crimes but it is duly constituted and independent courts of law that find accused guilty (or innocent).

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GB Dorrington:
11 Aug 2009 11:28:12am

Bob Brown is right. Like many others, I vehemently oppose a foreign country dictating who says what, why and how here in Australia. I particularly oppose China's "spoit little girl" behaviour. Anyhow, the rest of the world is still waiting for China's proof that Ms Kadeer instigated the riots. How fanciful. Show us the proof!!

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11 Aug 2009 11:28:40am

I realise that all of this and the bizarre Rio allegations are designed for home consumption in China and that the Chinese Government only vaguely cares about how these things play out in the West [and East for that matter].
That is the real challenge for the rest of the world.
Governments and corporations must collectively stand up to this nonsense and make China realise that this grossly unacceptable behaviour will not be tolerated.
China must quickly realise that there will be consequences and that continuing to behave in this way is not in its long term national interest.
The window of opportunity for the world is limited. Act soon or this will never change!

Agree (0) Alert moderator

11 Aug 2009 11:28:53am

I wonder how Bob Brown would react if a climate-change denier like Fred Singer was to speak at the National Press Club?

Agree (0) Alert moderator

11 Aug 2009 11:59:52am

He'd be able to use his right to freedom of speach to counter such arguments and then we, the people, can decide for ourselves...

Agree (0) Alert moderator

11 Aug 2009 11:29:22am

Bob Brown is contradicting himself in stating that "...the Government should not allow a foreign country to try to suppress free speech in Australia...". Whether right or wrong, Chinese representatives communicating their concerns and desires to the Government are exercising their right to free speech.

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11 Aug 2009 12:05:14pm

Sounds great...if only those chinese repressionists would apply the same rule at home and let the chinese people exercise THEIR right to free speach....

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Jim Bendfeldt:
11 Aug 2009 11:31:12am

I'm glad that there is still one beacon of freedom shining in this country in the form of Bob Brown and the Greens.

China has been increasingly sticking its nose too far into our affairs, and it's time that the federal govt treated their interference and subversion as a national security threat.

What are our spies (ASIO, et al) doing? They should be doing what they are paid to do, guard our democracy from overseas threats.

The diggers who died defending this country in WW1 and WW2 would be rolling over in their graves.

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11 Aug 2009 12:14:43pm

ASIO spends 90% of its efforts spying on its own people, mostly left wing political organizations that pose zero military threat to Australia. The other 10% is spent following newly arrived immigrants around and reading their pentagon-direct briefings.

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Flavian Hardcastle:
11 Aug 2009 11:32:40am

It's easy for the Greens to take the moral high ground, as they don't actually have to govern. Smith, being foreign affairs minister, is in the position of having to be diplomatic.

Agree (0) Alert moderator

11 Aug 2009 12:00:56pm

The only issue is that the word "diplomatic" seems to be an excuse for dropping morales quicker than Peter Garratte drops his love for the environment...

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11 Aug 2009 11:33:26am

I am with Stephen Smith on this one. China has its right to object to the speech of Kadeer at the National Press Club, particularly given the ethnic tensions that have arisen in Xinjiang province. In the same way, institutions such as the National Press Club in Australia have the right to invite indivuduals as they please to make a speech. Am I the only one who finds it ironic that the Greens leader is saying the government should stand up for free speech, while at the same time, ridiculing China for expressing their viewpoint to the Australian government??

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Jim Bendfeldt:
11 Aug 2009 11:46:45am

China through its network of nationals living in Australia and overseas, should NOT be allowed to attack the web-sites of organisations such as the Melbourne International Film Festival. The MIF Festival should have the same rights as the National Press Club in inviting individuals, and showing films that meet the requirements of the Australian National Classification Scheme.

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11 Aug 2009 11:34:45am

I don't think we should bother rebuking the Chinese. They can learn from seeing how a more open process works.

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Robert Bartels:
11 Aug 2009 11:36:39am

Is Ms Kadeer a peace-loving spokesperson for a people whose culture is being overrun by Han dominance, similar to the Dalai Lama, or is she an instigator of violence like Osama bin Laden? Our media do little to help us make an informed decision of what Kadeer is really like. If she's like Osama, would the National Press Club still invite her? But if she's like the Dalai Lama, she's worth hearing.

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11 Aug 2009 11:36:47am

I wonder what all these Aussie "free speech" defenders would do if the Melbourne Festival was presented a film by China as an entrant - a film that applauds the bombing of Australians in Bali and touts it as a good thing. Would we "ban"? censor? or use our new "incitement to terror" laws to stop it at the border?

Remember, Ms Kadeer is viewed by the Chinese government the same way we view bin Laden. They believe we are giving a "terrorist" a voice here to incite terror in China.

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11 Aug 2009 11:51:44am

Why would the Chinese government produce a film applauding the actions of Malaysian/Indonesian terrorist cells?

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Flavian Hardcastle:
11 Aug 2009 11:58:25am

On the one hand we know the Bali bombings were bad, because people were killed.

With Rebiya Kadeer however, all we have is China's word that she's a terrorist, no evidence of any kind, and a demand that Australian institutions censor her on their behalf.

The two situations are a bit different.

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11 Aug 2009 12:17:52pm

WE claim the Bali bombings were bad, because our citizens were killed. Others are thinking it was a good thing.

The Chinese claim to have evidence. Who are we to doubt them? The same people who claimed to have evidence Dr, Haneef was a terrorist? Who helped to kill 100,000 or more Iraqis because we were told WMDs were right beside all of them?

Agree (0) Alert moderator

11 Aug 2009 11:37:20am

By defending Chinese diplomats rights to express their concerns politely here, it allows the Australian diplomats to express their concerns in various matters in China ... think about it ...

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11 Aug 2009 12:01:46pm

Assuming the Chinese pick up the phone.....think about it.

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11 Aug 2009 12:17:13pm

Isn't it a matter of "When in Rome..." expressing a view is one thing, expecting the other party to accede just because we stated a view is another.

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11 Aug 2009 11:39:46am

Bob Brown is a typical ignorant and shameless politico, he usually supports any action which is against Chinese goverment regardless the key value of Sino-Australian relationship and true feeling of Chinese.

I am curious what kind of Aussie and how many percentage people of Australian population support his opinion. But I do believe media like such a kind of person who always can provoke arguments and stories.

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11 Aug 2009 11:42:37am

The Chinese government seems to be acting more and more like a two-year old. One almost expects them to threaten to hold their breath until they turn blue.

If we scratch beneath the surface of the modern China, we find lurking there a similar bunch of hard-line unreconstructed ideologues that have been oppressing their own people for too long.

They froth at the mouth when they think that outsiders are interfering with their 'internal affairs' and then react by attempting to do the same thing to others.

It is just as well that individual Australians will stand up to this petulant behavior, even if the Australian government is too spineless.

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11 Aug 2009 11:44:02am

It becomes more and more clearly Australia is using Rebiya Kadeer to blackmail the verdict of Stern Hu with a high-sounding title of "free speech" or "democracy".

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11 Aug 2009 12:35:04pm

Can't follow your logic, Bin. I would have thought all the blackmail is coming from China at the moment, stuff like, if you run the Kadeer film, we will cancel the sister city relationship with Melbourne etc.

If you are going to do the bidding for the Chinese propaganda ministry, at leading put a decent arguement together.

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11 Aug 2009 11:44:33am

Brown and Smith are both correct in my view. Mr. Bob has the guts to speak out to patronise Australian fairness and freedom, which are the motivity I came to this country. While Mr. Smith simply stated all diplomats were entitled the right to express their concern, as long as they did it in right way. I can't see any conflict between them.

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11 Aug 2009 11:46:39am

Stephan Smith is right. China should have an opporrunity to express its views, Juast as a the Press Club can decide who it wants to speak.

The best thing that we can do is lead by example and show the Chinese that in a democracy, people are allowed to express a view, no matter who they are.

This visit by Ms Kadeer has been a PR disaster for China and it has given her and her cause more publicity that she could have dreamed of.

The Chinese have a lot to learn about being a potential superpower.

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11 Aug 2009 11:48:03am

I think Bob Brown should do some cross-cultural courses to have a better judgement and argument by giving support to a figure of questionable integrity. We Australians do value the right of free speech, but not that kind of speech would ignite ethnic hatred which will jeopardize lives of innocent people.

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11 Aug 2009 11:52:24am

The press club has stated that it had no pressure from the Chinese to cancel the speech, just an expression of concern. I have some Chinese friends and they have said that to live in China is just accept the govt for all its' faults, and get on with your life the best way you can. But there are changes coming. The govt is allowing more freedoms, it will just take a while.

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11 Aug 2009 11:55:58am

A couple of comments have said that China is only exercising its 'right' ( rights attach to individuals, not governments) to free speech, but I think that there is a difference between a case of speaking through normal diplomatic channels government to government and a foreign government approacching an association of individuals in a foreign country directly in order to make requests, even if the request is made with the utmost courtesy.

The latter is a complete departure from normal practice , has the appearance of improper attempt to influence an outcome and puts the individuals under pressure to change their position without those individuals having done anything, such as acting unlawfully, that would normally bring them to the attention of the government of either country.

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11 Aug 2009 11:58:53am

The issue is not freedom of speech. The issue is ad-hoc approach to terrorist versus freedom fighter.

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Pen Pal:
11 Aug 2009 11:59:37am

Until someone oversteps the line of decency, then I believe every individual has the right to be heard.

One word about inciting trouble then flick off the microphone - until then, let's hear what she has to say - it might just be that the Chinese are wrong,

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11 Aug 2009 12:21:36pm

And if, after hearing BOTH sides, we decide that China is correct then we should also say so.

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11 Aug 2009 11:59:57am

It's great to see a spectrum of opinion being aired on a public website without fear of censorship or authoritarian crackdowns. Try doing this in China.

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11 Aug 2009 12:00:36pm

I agree that Chinese officials are entitled to ask the National Press Club to cancel today's speech. The NPC is also entitled to ignore them.

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11 Aug 2009 12:00:53pm

"The National Press Club says it did not feel under pressure" is somehow turned into "gag bid". Come on! Beat up of the the day I think and Bob Brown fell for it. Free speech also means that anyone is free to ask anyone not to say something.

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Sick of PC:
11 Aug 2009 12:01:41pm

To Stephen Smith: SHUT UP! I personally am sick of the Chinese government. Go to any despotic regime in the world and there, in the background, are the Chinese Government taking evrything they can. How do you think Mugabe is where he is and why he has survivied so long. Remember the Chinese Government was Mugabe's backer when he was, more correctly, termed a "terrorist".

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11 Aug 2009 12:03:42pm

as usual Australian's call for free speech where another country is concerned but breach the human rights of its Indigenous people on a regular basis so that they can line their pockets with illegal proceeds from the supposedly tolitartian chinese.

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11 Aug 2009 12:06:22pm

Senator Brown is correct - China needs to be told firmly to pull its head in and learn to respect the rights and standards of countries it wants to engage with rather than seeking to impose the standards and practices it imposes on its own people.

I've seen first hand the difference in treatment received by ethnic minorities in China compared with Han Chinese which is tantamount to state sanctioned racism.

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11 Aug 2009 12:10:32pm

Can someone tell me exactly were to go on the abc website to listen to the speech at 12.30?

Moderator: There will be a link in an orange bar at the top of our home page, http://www.abc.net.au/news/

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11 Aug 2009 12:11:37pm

In the past it was said that Australia was the 51st state of the United States now our government behaves in a way that looks like we have become another province of China. The Australian government should be standing up for our long held ideals of genuine free speech not conditional speech as our potential masters from Beijing insist upon. Moreover why is our government rolling over in China's treatment of Rio Tinto and Stern Hu? If this is the manner of justice handed by the Chinese system to foreigners what must it be like for those who live under Beijing's rule?

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11 Aug 2009 12:14:13pm

Writing has been on the wall for some time. Remember the people bussed to canberra to intimidate and drown out protestors during the Olympic flag run? Should have been much more said about that at the time but too many China apologists in the media and commentariat for it to be properly analysed.

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11 Aug 2009 12:21:07pm

Now let's be fair, while some of us are busy rattling the sabre of free speech we should think very carefully about the ramifications of this line of argument.

If Abu Bakar Bashir started speaking in Islamic Nations about the role of Islamic revolutionaries and the importance of their work, would we not be protesting? Vested intererst has a way of dictating the terms by which we all operate in relation to honoring the demands of "Free speech"...does it not??

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11 Aug 2009 12:41:07pm

I understand your point but your analogy is somewhat skewed. Kadeer, from what I know, via an accident of birth is a spokeswoman for a ethnic minority in the far western provinces of what is officially china. Now these people don't look chinese, they don't speak chinese ( I assume), they don't follow chinese customs...and so on. Maybe she's inciting uprisings, maybe she isn't...but in this case, even if she is, at first glance I'd say she'd have a pretty legitimate reason to do so given the nature of the ruling government.

Bashir is a man who's deciced, of his own free will, to adopt a set of religious beliefs and a cause that trascends all national and ethnic barriers (which is why I get mad when people who dislike islam are called racist - what the hell has race go to do with it) and one that requires it's imposition on the whole of humanity. He's not after freedom for his village, he's not trying to change his country, he wants to rule the world....

But, to precisely answer your point, the cost of freedom is that we must tolerate the intolerent. I hope I'd be big enough to fight for your right to say whatever you want no matter how much I disagreed....but being human, I dunno how far I'd go with that...

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11 Aug 2009 12:22:28pm

The only thing wrong with our relationship with China is that we haven't yet arrested one of the thousands of Chinese spies circulating in Australia.

The Chinese Government purportedly have one of our 'spies' and now they are demanding that we stop a Chinese dissident from voicing her views in a forum where free speech should be respected.

Why no comment from our glorious mandarin-speaking chairman? Can't find the words to express his disgust or just too scared to upset the folk that pull his strings?

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Mr J:
11 Aug 2009 12:23:07pm

What would you feel if I go and make a film praising the bali boomers and call it "ten condition of hates" and invite those bali boomer to a Chinese file festival and get them to talk about how justified they are on killing aussies.

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11 Aug 2009 12:47:45pm

I would say big big difference there. One has been proved with sold evidence of terrorism while another was only claimed by Beijing without any supporting fact. Hence they should be treat differently.

If you were innocently suppressed, you do want a chance to speak out, don't you?

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11 Aug 2009 12:24:36pm

It's entirely appropriate for the Australian Government to educate the Chinese Government on Australian beliefs and laws. I see no issue with the Government advising the Chinese that attempts to restrict the film or the public speaking engagements are inappropriate and counter productive...as well as ensuring that an even larger than usual audience will tune in to see what the fuss is about.
If China had competent politicians, they would never have proceeded with such an embarassing and ill-fated attempt at interference.

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11 Aug 2009 12:27:00pm

I think it's all very well for us to basically say China is an immature brat and doing nothing but embaress itself...which is true. But the thing that blows my mind is how so many people totally discount the immense military buildup going on in what is a NUCLEAR ARMED MILITARY DICTATORSHIP! For the love of humanity...our freedom and democracy is not guaranteed...for the majority of humanity both in history and the present...at best these concepts are just fantasies....the chinese government (not people) is a serious threat to the whole world. Invasion is of course ludicrous, but pretending to be friends while these wretches pop up Zimbabwe, Fiji, etc....it makes me sick.

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11 Aug 2009 12:49:47pm

oh god..more self righteous fear mongering about the yellow hordes to our north. While you are busy sitting there metering out the judgements against the Chinese I suggest you check the label of the clothes you wear and the computer you use, 100 to 1 it's all made in China!

The free loving armchair critics living in our democratic capitalist utopia seem pretty happy taking Chinese $$$$ for our natural resources and to help prop up our standrd of living.

The word Hypocrit begins with "H" for happy??

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11 Aug 2009 12:30:44pm

Bob Brown wants free speech in Australia?
What a joke, try saying something against the climate change con and see how happy he is for you to have free speech.

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Big Yin:
11 Aug 2009 12:33:22pm

How can Stephen Smith defend th indefensible? China would tell Rudd to sod off, if he 'requested' that someone not be allowed to speak in Beijing! Smith is accepting that China have a right to interfere in Australia's internal affairs. Got news for him, THEY DON'T!

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Glass Houses:
11 Aug 2009 12:37:29pm

The Chinese government is a totalitarian dictactorship, just like the governments of Robert Mugabe, North Korea and Mynamar. They
have no credibility. As to whether Rebiya Kadeer is credible, I'll make my own mind up on that.

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11 Aug 2009 12:37:45pm

The Rudd Government is now trying to distance itself politically from
Ms Kadeer being allowed to take her sensitive and politically explosive issues to such a public platform.
The Chinese Government are clearly infuriated over Canberra allowing a world spotlight to shine on this internally sensitive Chinese issue from inside Australian democracy.
Considering the dangerous politics that are being played out here, I dont think Greens leader Bob Brown understands the ramifications of
exactly what he is calling for the Rudd Government to stand up for.
Free speech is one thing but getting involved in an obvious tit for tat "Cold War" over the Stern Hu Rio Tinto case, will only pour fuel on an already very angry Red Dragon.

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11 Aug 2009 12:42:09pm

An independent Uighur country would be a complete disaster for a LOT of reasons.
It could also become a basket case like East Timor, so we should be careful what we support as we may have to pick up the pieces.
We need a strong China at the moment. Someone tried to plant disunity through Falun Gung and the Tibet issue, now it's the Uighur issue.

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11 Aug 2009 12:56:09pm

Take it easy. Why should we care China strong or not? If you are concerning the economy, let me tell you that when Chinese international labor team die, there will be teams from other coutries to replace them. And there will be always demand on Australian resources - as long as we have them.

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11 Aug 2009 12:46:10pm

Aussies think they are elephants like Americans. Wake up! Aussies may just have the power of mice. Aussies think they have the best government. After all, they have a democracy. Wake up! You simply have a bunch of silly politicians. Aussies, decedents of criminals, killers of Aborigines, where is your moral high ground? You create a rosy illusion to deceive yourself. You act as if people in the world care about your silly act. You are dreaming that your festival is Hollywood. Your silly news do not even reach front page.

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11 Aug 2009 12:49:38pm

I don't see anything wrong with Mr. Brown's speech, and feel very happy with it. Who cares with the good-for-nothing Chinese government. Just forget it!

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Get Real:
11 Aug 2009 12:52:34pm

"Greens leader Bob Brown says the Government should not allow a foreign country to try to suppress free speech in Australia."

He's half right. Let them try all they want. The Government should not let them succeed at supressing free speach.

Almost agreeing with Bob Brown is as close as it gets for me!

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11 Aug 2009 12:58:51pm

Well Australian officials can always arrest the Chinese diplomats for espionage if they get in the way too much, hmm, i dunno, just seems like the thing to do these days!

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11 Aug 2009 12:59:54pm

Not only I support Bob Brown comments, but I still think Australian Government should start politicising Australian National Resources (just like chinese do!)

Make Rio Tinto leave China (compensate them)

Everyone can see that Hu 'fiasco' is a payback for government not letting China buy-in into Australia resources.

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11 Aug 2009 1:00:18pm

What are you Smith a man or a mouse stand up to China the same way you would to North Korea.
What a poor example to show the Australian people China has shown over the last few weeks that all China worries about is China.

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11 Aug 2009 1:00:44pm

With Australia's growing economic dependency on trade with China, one wonders whether the time will come when we are forced to cow tow to pressure applied by the Chinese Government to curb our love of free speech. I hope not!

Apart from a few martyrs, everyone has their price!

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11 Aug 2009 1:01:15pm

I heard Stephen Smith's statement and it was perfectly reasonable. He acknowledged the Chinese right to complain politely and through normal channels. He did not suggest that their complaint would be given any more weight than any other opinion in the matter. Bob Brown is grandstanding about something he'll never have to make a serious decision about. 100% hot air. Press club should give chinese ambassador equal time, & we'll all see if they can justify their claims.

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Andrew Huang:
11 Aug 2009 1:02:01pm

As exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer did not have free speech in China, Australia Green party should help more of Uighur muslim fighters to imigrate to this free country--Australia. They may, one day, help us to become a islamic country, and overthrow chinese goverment from here.

Do we give free speech to Bin Larden?

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11 Aug 2009 1:02:16pm

I learned a simple truth many years ago from Harvard Business School in that you cannot have freedom without discipline.

This rule applies to many freedoms in our society especially 'free speech'. We do impose rules about what you can and cannot say. This is sometimes referred to as censorship.

The only difference between us and China are the specific rules, and as evidenced by TV reports of Chinese citizens criticizing their government response to last year's catastrophic earthquakes, their rules are slowly being liberalized.

On the other hand, our rules are being tightened ( eg vilification rules, rules to incite violence etc ).

Maybe some day we will cross over in the middle.

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