March, 2012

In response to a question by an Australian journalist on 15 January 2012, a spokesperson for Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd made the following comments:

– The minister has been deeply concerned by the tragic Tibetan self-immolations. – The Australian government again calls on China to address the underlying causes of tension in Tibet and other Tibetan regions in China.

– The government reminds the Chinese authorities that economic development should be complemented by protection of the unique linguistic, cultural and religious identities of China’s minorities.

– Officials from the Australian embassy in Beijing visited Sichuan province in October 2011 to hear firsthand from the monks there of what was happening.

– The Australian ambassador raised the government’s serious concerns with the vice-governor of Sichuan province on 29 November.

– On the minister’s instructions, representations have been made repeatedly to the Chinese authorities in Beijing and to the Chinese embassy in Canberra.

– The foreign minister also discussed the treatment of Tibetans with vice-president Xi Jinping in 2010 and again with senior politburo member Jia Qinglin in April 2011.

– The government continues to monitor closely the situation on the ground in the Tibet Autonomous Region and other Tibetan regions in China.

– The foreign minister receives regular reports from the Australian embassy in Beijing.

– The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade meets regularly with Australia Tibet Council including to discuss Australia’s Human Rights Dialogue with China.

– The government receives correspondence from a range of people and groups concerned about the situation in Tibet and ethnic Tibetan regions of China.

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