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Bob Carr’s Tibet bid earns ire of China

The Australian: BOB Carr has been rebuked by the Chinese government for wading into the Tibet debate, with state-owned media and the Foreign Affairs Ministry accusing him of interfering in the country’s domestic affairs and pandering to the US.

The Chinese backlash came after Senator Carr revealed Australia’s ambassador to China, Frances Adamson, would request a visit to highly sensitive Tibetan areas of Sichuan province.

“Let me emphasise I spoke as recently as Saturday night to Frances Adamson, our ambassador in Beijing, to have her request a visit to Tibet on behalf of the Australian government,” Senator Carr told ABC TV’s 7.30 on Wednesday.

In response, the Communist Party-run tabloid The Global Times effectively told Australia to butt out of China’s internal affairs.

The paper cited a Chinese foreign affairs expert saying Australia appeared to be shifting its foreign policy focus towards human rights – a topic the Chinese detest being lectured on by Western countries – following the departure of Kevin Rudd from the Foreign Ministry.”What happens in Tibet is China’s domestic affairs. It has nothing to do with Australia, nor does Australia have the right to interfere,” Minzu University professor Wu Chuke told The Global Times.

“He (Senator Carr) thinks that the act is for Australian domestic politics.

“After Kevin Rudd has stepped down the new Foreign Minister has turned ‘right’, his aim is to make China’s human rights an issue and strengthen the relationship with the US.”

In response to a query from The Australian, China’s Foreign Ministry rammed the point home: “China is willing to strengthen friendly co-operation and communications with other countries. What we want to emphasis is that Tibetan affairs are Chinese domestic affairs. China resolutely opposes any other country or any other people to interfere in China’s internal affairs under any excuse.”

Tibetan areas have seen mounting levels of violence as a series of self-immolations, mainly by Buddhist monks and nuns, has sparked wider protests, prompting Chinese security forces to step in.

Senator Carr’s comments have echoes of a mistake made by Mr Rudd when on his first trip to China he raised Tibet in a speech at Beijing University in 2008. Mr Rudd’s relationship with Beijing never recovered.

Senator Carr also snubbed Australia’ major trading partner by announcing that his first trip to the region would be to Vietnam, Cambodia and Singapore.

Senator Carr’s inaugural Asian itinerary has raised eyebrows in diplomatic circles in Beijing, with one source describing the decision as “bizarre”.

But the new Foreign Minister is following a tradition of gaffes in Asia diplomacy by Labor.

Mr Rudd visited China and not Japan on his first trip to Asia as prime minister, a mistake Julia Gillard reversed by visiting Japan and not China on her first visit.

The latest gaffe by Senator Carr comes after he upset Papua New Guinea’s leaders for suggesting Australia would consider sanctions if the country did not hold elections on schedule.

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