Join our Mailing List

"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

PM's Office Keeps visit Secret

March 29, 2009

Cameron Stewart
The Australian
March 28, 2009

THE propaganda chief of the Chinese Communist
Party visited the country farm of ABC chairman
Maurice Newman during his mysterious visit to Australia.

The next day, Li Changchun lobbied ABC managing
director Mark Scott over the broadcaster's
coverage of Tibet, saying he wanted the Chinese
Government's views fully represented.

However, Kevin Rudd's office yesterday moved to
shut down any further disclosures about the
movements of China's fifth-most powerful man
during his Australian visit this week.

The Government has been under fire since it was
revealed that the Prime Minister held meetings
with Mr Li at The Lodge last weekend without
telling the Australian media, while inviting
China's state-run media to cover the event.

The meeting came at a time when a series of
multi-billion-dollar investment deals were pending between the countries.

Mr Rudd's office last night refused The Weekend
Australian's request that it release the full
itinerary of Mr Li's five-day, taxpayer-funded
official visit, which ended on Tuesday.

"The Australian Government does not release the
details of travel arrangements by visiting
foreign dignitaries," a spokeswoman for Mr Rudd said.

Such information is usually withheld only for
security reasons before a visit, not after the visitor has left.

"Questions about Mr Li's itinerary are more
appropriately directed to the Chinese embassy," the spokeswoman said.

A spokesman for the Chinese embassy did not want
to talk about Mr Li's itinerary, referring this
newspaper to reports of the visit in China's state-run media.

Meanwhile the Department of Foreign Affairs and
Trade said it had nothing to do with the visit,
and inquiries should be directed to the Prime Minister's office.

The veil of secrecy from the Government
surrounding the visit was in sharp contrast to
the wide coverage given by Chinese media to Mr Li's visit.

The Weekend Australian has learned that on Sunday
morning -- at the same time as Mr Rudd was on TV
calling for China to play a more central role in
the global financial system -- Mr Li was driven
to Mr Newman's farm outside Canberra.

Mr Li's visit was organised by the Department of
Prime Minister and Cabinet, but the trip to the
farm was believed to have been orchestrated by Mr
Newman, who last year stepped down as chairman of
the Australian Securities Exchange.

After visiting Mr Newman's farm between 10.30am
and 12.50pm, the delegation travelled to Sydney,
where they are believed to have met Seven Network chairman Kerry Stokes.

A day later, Mr Li met Mr Scott in Sydney, where
he lobbied the ABC managing director about the broadcaster's coverage of Tibet.

Mr Li's meetings with both Mr Newman and Mr Scott
came at a time when the ABC is seeking Beijing's
permission to broadcast ABC news directly into
China via its international service, the Australia Network.

Mr Li told Mr Scott he wanted the Chinese
Government's views to be fully represented in ABC reports on Tibet.

"He felt the Chinese position on Tibet does not
get the coverage it should in Western media,' Mr Scott said.

"I indicated that, under our editorial policies,
we have a principle that all relevant issues and viewpoints are heard."

Other talking points were Tibet, the Dalai Lama
and the proposed $19.5 billion deal between Chinalco and Rio Tinto.

CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
Developed by plank