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EXPOSED: Chinese Consulate Hoodwinks City of Melbourne on Eve of Tiananmen Massacre Anniversary

June 3, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Australia Tibet Council
Wednesday 3 June 2009

Melbourne Town Hall will today host a photo exhibition funded and organized
by the Chinese Government purporting to show the “democratic reform and
social and economic development of Tibet, China in the past 50 years”.

The booking for the exhibition, titled “Tibet’s Past and Present”, was made
under false pretences by Chinese-Australian businessman Anson Hong, Chairman
of the National Liaison Council of Chinese Australians - an organization
with strong links to the Chinese Communist Party. An invitation leaked to
the Australia Tibet Council revealed that Mr. Hong had acted as a proxy for
the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Melbourne.

The exhibition, a central component in a state-driven initiative to shape
international perceptions of the Tibetan situation, has been shown in a
number of countries including China, Canada and South Korea. It was recently
withdrawn from the Canberra Centre after a series of complaints to the venue
and the Canberra Times.

Officials at the City of Melbourne were unaware till yesterday of the
exhibition’s link to the Chinese Government. The booking was made directly
with Epicure Catering, the company contracted by the City of Melbourne to
manage the Town Hall, and was being handled as a commercial booking. A staff
member at the City of Melbourne, who wishes to remain anonymous, conceded
that they had been “hoodwinked” by Mr. Hong over the exhibition.
Nonetheless, contractors Epicure Catering have chosen to proceed with the
exhibition and the City of Melbourne has refused to intervene.

Revelation of the exhibition, advertised only through the Chinese language
media, has drawn strong reactions from Melbourne’s Tibetan community.

“We are very concerned and upset that Melbourne Town Hall is giving
legitimacy to this exhibition. It is deeply insensitive and inflammatory
towards our community and we appeal in the strongest possible terms for the
City of Melbourne to intervene,” said Samdup Tsering, President of the
Tibetan Community Association of Victoria.

Australia Tibet Council (ATC) claims the exhibition grossly misrepresents
the realities in modern Tibet and is potentially damaging towards ongoing
efforts to promote dialogue and reconciliation between Australia’s Tibetan
and Han Chinese communities. ATC recently published a report reveals the
alarming extent of covert efforts by Chinese Government officials in
Australia to influence Australian politicians, media, NGOs and
universities(1).

“This exhibition is a blatant example of the Chinese Government’s
determination to avoid dealing with the Tibetan issue. Instead of addressing
the legitimate concerns of the Tibetan people, the Chinese Government
persists with its attempt to deny the existence of the problem and mislead
the international community about the real situation in Tibet,” said Paul
Bourke, Executive Officer of the Australia Tibet Council.

The Chinese Consulate General in Melbourne sent invitations for the
exhibition’s opening to members of the Victorian Parliament and local
councils. Members of the Victorian Parliament and Melbourne City Council
have since been advised of the nature of the exhibition and are discouraged
from attending.

Chinese dissident groups have also expressed concern at the timing of the
exhibition, which will open on the eve of the politically sensitive 20th
anniversary of the Tianenman massacre.

For further information and comment:
Simon Bradshaw, Campaign Coordinator, Australia Tibet Council. 02 9283 3466,
0404 859 806, sbradshaw@atc.org
Samdup Tsering, President, Tibetan Community.03 9558 0295, 0416 379 338,
s.tsering@bigpond.com

1. The full report Courting the Dragon: Chinese Government Influence in
Australia and our Response to the Tibetan Situation can be downloaded from
www.atc.org.au/courtingthedragon
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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