It was announced last weekend that China and Australia’s human rights partnership, the Human Rights Technical Cooperation Program has been put on hold.
Photo credit: ABC News
Just a couple of days prior, Liberal senators James Paterson and Andrew Hastie were not being given permission to attend a study tour to Beijing in December. It follows the Senators’ outspoken criticism of China’s deportation and internment of Uighur Muslims in Western China. It has been previously been noted that China has dragged its collective feet when it comes to human rights negotiations, calling out any hypocrisy from other nations when western criticism of China comes to the fore.
Despite the news that the human rights agreement was on ice, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg reassured the public that the economic partnership between Australia and China would remain strong, as China has become the lead foreign investor in Australia, overtaking the USA. Australia, fighting off the looming possibility of a recession, will likely look to continue the strong partnership that has provided Australia with so much economic growth.
The distinction between the two areas is no more evident than on university campuses, where high numbers of international students, particularly from China engage in discussions regarding Chinese influence and human rights on campuses with other political and ideological groups. These students are a significant part of university revenues, as Australia continues to be a significant exporter of education, despite the growing issues of foreign influence on university campuses.