On 21 October 2004, the 8th China-Australia Human Rights Dialogue was held in Canberra, which was yet another key step in the process of constructive dialogue between the two sides on human rights. The dialogue, started in 1997, aims to improve mutual trust, discuss on human rights issues and seek concrete ways of cooperation.
The Chinese human rights dialogue delegation, headed by Assistant Foreign Minister Shen Guofang, was composed of representatives from the Supreme People's Court, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Justice, CPC Central Committee United Front Works Department, State Ethnic Affairs Commission, and the All-China Women's Federation. The Australian human rights dialogue delegation was headed by Dr. Raby, Deputy Secretary of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and participated by Senator Marise Payne, Commissioner Tom Calma of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission and representatives from other departments in charge of human rights.
The two sides carried out frank and deep-going discussion on a series of issues of common interest, e.g. measures taken by respective countries to protect human rights, rights of women and children, rights of ethnic minorities, cooperation with UN human rights mechanism and China-Australia technical cooperation on human rights. China and Australian delegations also met with Australian NGOs.
Both side held that Sino-Australian relationship is maintaining sound momentum of development with ever expanding exchanges and cooperation in various areas. Further development of friendly cooperation served the interests of both peoples and the peace and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region. The commitment of both sides to dialogue gave expression to the strong bilateral ties existed between China and Australia.
Both sides reiterated their recognition of and respect for the universal nature of human rights, holding all human rights are inseparable, interdependent and interlinked.
Both sides held that since social system, cultural tradition and development level varies among members of the international community, the existence of different opinions on human rights was only normal. Human rights dialogue on the basis of equality and mutual respect facilitated more mutual exchange, better mutual understanding and common progress.
Both sides held that, all countries, developing or developed, shared the responsibility of further promoting and protecting human rights, but the difficulties they might come up against were different.
During the dialogue, both sides approved the Human Rights Joint Technical Cooperation Program for 2004 to 2005 and expressed their willingness to carry forward their cooperation project on human rights.
Australian Foreign Minister Downer met with the Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Shen Guofang and his delegation.
After the dialogue, the Chinese delegation will go to visit Red Fern aboriginal community and have talks with the Australian Human Rights and Opportunity Commission.