Peter Dutton, discussing tennis star Peng Shuai, slams celebrities for failing to criticize China’s treatment of women


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“And not to mention the fate of tens of thousands of others who find themselves in the same situation where they are threatened or their human rights violated or not, Uyghurs and others.

“And so part of my judgment to be honest about these things is that I think if we want change and we want China to continue to be a great power but to respect the rule of law , then we should talk about it. “

Peng Shuai accused former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexually assaulting her, before withdrawing his claims.Credit:

Mr. Dutton has been criticized by the federal opposition and some national security experts for his comments on the prospect of a conflict with China in the coming years over Taiwan. This included comments in November in which he said it would be “inconceivable” for Australia not to join the United States if it decided to defend Taiwan against a Chinese attack.

Mr Dutton said he was focusing on “the prevailing peace” in the region, but also believed it was important to be “honest and speak candidly with the Australian public”.

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“If there was a conflict of any kind in our area, then I don’t think the public wants to wake up to this news in the newspaper, having heard nothing about it, or the prospect, before, ”he said. “So I think it’s best to be honest first. “

The #MeToo hashtag is censored in China, while the social media accounts of women’s rights activists have been suspended and closed; some have been harassed and monitored.

Last month, the Chinese government decided to revise its key piece of legislation protecting women’s rights for the first time in nearly 20 years, but activists have warned it did not go far enough in defining sanctions for the perpetrators of abuse.

Yaqiu Wang, senior researcher on China at Human Rights Watch, said women’s rights activists and victims of sexual abuse in China face government censorship, harassment, surveillance and even detention. for speaking.

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“The women’s rights movement is terribly suppressed. Therefore, it is very important for the international community to pay attention and support the rights of women in China, ”she said.

“I hope western feminists can pay more attention to women’s rights issues in China, but I understand the reasons for their absence. The Chinese government’s Internet censorship and the suppression of international trade make it more difficult for Western feminists to know the situation in China.

Ms. Wang said the Chinese government had for years taken advantage of access to the Chinese market to silence international critics, adding that there was a “collective reluctance” in Hollywood to speak out on rights issues. of man in China.

“Celebrities like Richard Gere – who is a longtime supporter of the Tibetan cause – have paid a heavy price for openly criticizing the Chinese government,” she said.

“But recently, I feel very encouraged to see stars like Naomi Osaka speak up for Peng Shuai, knowing that her business interests may be hurt because of it.”

Blair Williams, from the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at the Australian National University, said the treatment of women in China is a big concern, but Australia needs to make sure it gets its own house in order before to teach others on the world stage.

“We have a Parliament that has seen so much sexual assault, harassment, abuse and intimidation and all the kind of toxic work culture that we have seen throughout the last year,” said the Dr Williams.

“Before we start pointing fingers at other people’s backyards, we really need to make sure our backyard is clean. We really need to improve the Australian political situation.

“It’s a global struggle. It is happening everywhere. And that’s something we have to fight for, rather than making it into political football. “

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Veronica Koman, campaign strategist for Amnesty International Australia, said the Chinese government used to silence women who made allegations of sexual violence, including by repeatedly trying to end the #MeToo movement of the country.

“While we welcome Peter Dutton’s concerns and agree that more needs to be done regarding China’s treatment of women, we believe that Dutton himself could have done more to ensure the safety of women in Australia,” especially those of Parliament and the defense forces, ”she said.

Ms Koman said that next month’s Winter Olympics in Beijing would provide a good platform for people to talk about China’s treatment of women as well as other human rights concerns.

Australia has launched a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games over China’s human rights record, meaning no Australian government official will attend the events.

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