<HTML><HEAD> <META name=GENERATOR content="MSHTML 8.00.6001.19019"></HEAD> <BODY> <H1 class="cN-headingPage prepend-5 span-11 last">Beijing demands Gillard's respect</H1> <H5>John Garnaut </H5> <P><CITE>April 26, 2011</CITE></P> <P>CHINA has urged the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, to study its ''tremendous progress on human rights'' and ''show basic respect'' as she begins her most testing outing on the international stage.</P> <P>Ms Gillard, who arrived in China last night for her first visit in a decade, said she was confident of extending economic and practical co-operation while pressing human rights concerns.</P> <P>But returning to a pragmatic, Howard-like balance will not be easy in an environment where the Chinese state's willingness to assert its own political interests appears to be growing at least as fast as the Chinese economy.</P> <DIV id=adspot-300x250-pos-3 class=hidden><SMALL>Advertisement: Story continues below</SMALL> <NOSCRIPT><IFRAME id=dcAd-1-3 height=250 marginHeight=0 src="http://ad-apac.doubleclick.net/adi/onl.bt.news/world;cat=world;ctype=article;pos=3;sz=300x250;tile=3;ord=3.5266882E7?" frameBorder=0 width=300 allowTransparency marginWidth=0 scrolling=no> </IFRAME></NOSCRIPT></DIV><!-- cT-imageLandscape --> <DIV class=cT-imageLandscape><IMG alt="gillard in china.jpg" src="ctsart_0425bejingcartoon-420x0.jpg"> <P><EM>Illustration: Cathy Wilcox</EM></P></DIV> <P>Over Easter police stepped up a broad crackdown against the country's rapidly growing civil society, by arresting at least three dozen Christians and detaining hundreds in their homes as they tried to gather without permission for Sunday service.</P> <P>The United States took the unusual step of publicly signalling that it would press China on ''the recent negative trend of forced disappearances, extralegal detentions, and arrests and convictions, as well as rule of law, & and other human rights issues of concern''.</P> <P>Asked about recent signs of a crackdown in China at a media briefing yesterday, Ms Gillard said: ''Of course I'm concerned about recent reports.''</P> <P>She said she would be seeking reassurances that ''China is not taking a backward step''.</P> <P>The absence of rule-of-law in China has affected several Chinese Australians, prompting Ms Gillard yesterday to say she would ''vigorously'' defend the rights of Australian citizens.</P> <P>Expectations are high that she will ask for the release of Matthew Ng, a leading Australian businessman, who was detained on embezzlement charges in November amid a commercial dispute with a company owned by the Guangzhou government.</P> <P>Prosecutors appear reluctant to accept the present case against Mr Ng, due to a lack of evidence, but there are concerns that local police will arrest him on different charges before the investigation period ends on Saturday.</P> <P>Australian and Chinese officials hope human rights and strategic concerns will not hinder efforts to negotiate a free trade agreement, deepen economic ties and co-operate on climate change and the regional diplomatic architecture.</P> <P>China's ambassador to Australia, Chen Yuming, told the official Xinhua news agency that Ms Gillard's visit would help deepen mutual understanding and trust.</P> <P>''Australia will have the opportunity to learn about China in many fields, including the tremendous progress made in the field of human rights,'' he said.</P> <P>An editorial in the nationalistic <EM>Global Times</EM> said ''the Australian government should at least show basic respect to China''.</P> <P>Chinese have appreciated Ms Gillard's repeated assurances that China's economic growth was a good thing for Australia and the world. ''I believe a prosperous China that is strongly engaged with the region is good for Australia and is good for the region,'' she said yesterday.</P> <P>China also broadly accepts that Australia should not be forced to choose between Beijing and its military alliance with Washington.</P> <P>Yesterday Ms Gillard and South Korea's President, Lee Myung-bak, agreed to deepen military co-operation, including regular talks between the country's defence ministers from next year, which they aim to follow with two-plus-two talks - involving both countries' defence and foreign ministers - similar to those now held with Japan.</P> <P>''This is interpreted as a signal for drawing in Japan and South Korea to restrain China,'' a report in yesterday's <EM>Global Times</EM> said.</P> <P>Ms Gillard will meet the Premier, Wen Jiabao, for talks and a lunch banquet today, before 45 minutes of discussions with President Hu Jintao tomorrow.</P></BODY></HTML>