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Human rights dialogues can prove bitter

(Global Times)

09:19, July 13, 2012

Editor's Note:

An annual human rights conference between China and Australia started on July 11 in the Australian capital of Canberra. Senior-level delegations from the two countries have discussed a wide range of issues during their meetings. What is the significance of this dialogue on Sino-Australian relations? Do the meetings do anything to advance human rights? Global Times (GT) reporter Shu Meng talked to Xue Lei (Xue), a research fellow in the Department of International Organization and International Law of Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, and Gao Jia (Gao), assistant dean at the Asia Institute of the University of Melbourne, on these issues.

GT: Some argue that the dialogue has no tangible results or practical effect. How do you view this point?

Xue: The purpose of human rights dialogue is to reduce the lack of understanding through communication and exchanges. From this perspective, the continuation of the dialogue itself could be regarded as a kind of outcome.

We also need to look into the international background for the existence of the dialogue mechanism, which was mainly motivated by the drafts on China's human rights conditions proposed continuously by the Western countries in the UN Commission on Human Rights since 1990.

Taking this into account, we can see that, by substituting confrontation in the forms of anti-China drafts with the current form of dialogue, a certain progress has been made in mutual understanding between China and the West.

GT: There are regional differences and cultural differences between China and Australia. Have these differences had a negative impact on the dialogue?

Xue: The lack of understanding on human rights issues between China and Australia has been produced by the differences in political, economic, social, cultural, religious, and historical factors between the two countries.

The success of human rights dialogue do not depend on the extent of commonalities or differences between the two countries, but whether they have genuine will to have dialogue and exchanges.

GT: What do you think will be the impact of this dialogue on Sino-Australian relations?

Xue: The proactive and fruitful dialogue and cooperation first base on mutual trust. The China-Australian bilateral human rights dialogue is just one of the important steps to promote mutual political trust between the two countries. Through candid dialogue, both parties can have a deep understanding on the political, economic, and social system of the other side, which is conducive to the mutual cooperation in even broader areas.

Gao: I think the dialogue will have a negative impact on Sino-Australian relations.

In fact, the dialogue itself is a historical residue of international politics in the 20th century, instead of the benefits, the dialogue will lay the foundation for political and emotional alienation, unfriendly emotions and even hostility between the two countries.

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