“From exploitation to empowerment: Examining the role of commerce in promoting human rights and equality”


The recent visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Australia on March – has once again highlighted the connection between human rights and trade. As articulated in the initial two paragraphs of the Preamble, it is acknowledged that the fundamental respect for the inherent dignity and universal rights of all individuals serves as the cornerstone for global freedom, justice, and peace. Moreover, it is clear that the violation and dismissal of human rights have historically led to atrocities that have deeply offended humanity. Therefore, if we adhere to the principles outlined above, it is evident that prioritizing trade over human rights poses a significant danger to the values of freedom and justice.

During her recent meeting on March with Foreign Minister **** at Parliament House, Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong spoke to the press in a solo capacity. She emphasized the importance of discussing human rights concerns, particularly in regions such as Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong. However, notably absent from her remarks was any mention of Falun Gong, an ancient spiritual practice originating in China.

For the past years, a group of – million adherents known as Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, has faced persecution in China, making it the largest persecuted group in the country. This issue is significant in the context of Australia-China relations. Initially introduced to the public in by its founder Li Hongzhi, Falun Gong was initially embraced by the Chinese Communist Party (CCPfor its ability to improve the health of millions of Chinese citizens. Mr. Li was even invited to teach Falun Gong at the Chinese Embassy in Paris in . In addition to its physical health benefits, Falun Dafa also encompasses meditation and promotes moral values.

The revival of China’s spiritual and moral underpinnings, which were suppressed during the Cultural Revolution, ignited the anger of former Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin in , leading to the ongoing crackdown on Falun Gong. The government’s refusal to acknowledge this persecution is unfounded, as it has been extensively documented by reputable organizations such as the United Nations, the U.S. Department of State, Amnesty International, Freedom House, and various Western media outlets for many years. Australia has granted refugee status to numerous Falun Gong adherents escaping persecution in China since the crackdown commenced in July.

The Chinese Communist Party’s history of human rights violations, while attempting to navigate trade relationships, is a longstanding issue that has been a concern for Australian governments, regardless of political affiliation, for the past quarter-century. Recent protests from the Falun Gong, Tibetan, and Uyghur communities during the visit of Chinese Foreign Minister **** Yi in Canberra, Australia on March , have brought renewed attention to this ongoing challenge. In addition, during a press conference, Foreign Minister Wong reiterated Australia’s commitment to fostering a stable, productive, and mature relationship with China. Furthermore, she emphasized that Australia firmly opposes the use of the death penalty under any circumstances and for all individuals.

There has been a conspicuous absence of discourse regarding fatalities resulting from coerced organ transplantation in China, a practice in which individuals are deprived of their organs for the purpose of sale and transplant while they remain alive. This abhorrent act warrants prompt scrutiny and the most severe denunciation. The Chinese Communist Party categorizes any subject it wishes to evade or suppress as an anti-China stance, thereby discouraging dialogue on said matter. This tactic is indicative of the Party’s endeavor to wield influence over nations such as Australia. Should the Australian government opt for a strategy of managing its relationship with the CCP, it must be prepared to engage in rigorous negotiations.

Learninng Outcome

As the protests in Canberra highlight, the issue of human rights violations in China continues to be a pressing concern that cannot be ignored. It is essential for governments around the world to stand firmly against such abuses and advocate for the protection of basic rights and freedoms for all individuals. Australia’s unwavering stance on human rights and commitment to fostering a constructive relationship with China demonstrates the importance of holding accountable those who perpetrate such injustices while also striving for diplomacy and cooperation. Only through collective action and the promotion of universal values can we hope to bring about meaningful change and ensure a more just and equitable world for all.


Hakan Author

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