Chapter 5 - Mr Chen's
claims and support for them
This chapter considers the claims made by Mr
Chen and others involving the treatment of
Falun Gong practitioners, kidnapping allegations, an extensive spy network
operating in Australia
and the harassment and monitoring of Australian citizens. This chapter details
the evidence provided to the committee about the actions taken by the
government to investigate these claims.
On 26 May 2005,
left two letters at the DIMIA security desk outlining the reasons for his
request for political asylum and detailing his claims. A summary of the claims
is as follows:
- In his role as Consul for political affairs, Mr
Chen has been in charge of implementing the
PRC Central Government policy in relation to the Five Poisonous Groups (Falun
Gong, pro-democracy movement activists, pro-Taiwan independence force,
pro-Tibet separation force and Eastern Turkistan force).
In particular, he has been required to persecute Falun Gong practitioners
- While in Australia,
has assisted Falun Gong practitioners avoid persecution in China;
- He is fearful that these activities undertaken over the
last 4 years and 1 month will be discovered by his successor at the PRC
Consulate-General in Sydney;
- Mr Chen
has assisted Falun Gong practitioners avoid persecution because the PRC Central
Government's policy is against his conscience and will. Mr
Chen believes that Falun Gong is a
vulnerable, innocent social group in need of help, not persecution;
- Mr Chen is distressed that he has been working for an
authority which has unjustifiably placed Falun Gong practitioners in labour
camps, jails, forced re-education courses and put un-cooperative practitioners
to death; and
- Mr Chen
fears that should he return to China,
he may continue to be asked to assist in the persecution of Falun Gong. He
could not do this, even under pain of death.
Persecution in China
According to the Falun
Dafa information centre, 'Falun Gong (or Falun
Dafa) is an ancient form of qigong, the
practice of refining the body and mind through special exercises and
meditation. Since being introduced to the general public in 1992 by Mr
Li, Falun Gong has attracted tens of
millions of people in over 60 countries'.
The Chinese government does not see the Falun Gong in
the same light. It has made clear it regards the Falun Gong as an evil cult.
Our struggle against Falun Gong is protracted, acute and
In 2002, the Chinese Foreign Minister indicated that in
the government's view 'there has been a tendency within the Falun Gong that
merits our attention and alert, that is it's turning increasingly violent'. The
Chinese government has taken measures to deal with Falun Gong but it states
only legal means have been used. Although
the government has said any measures they are taking are lawful, Falun Gong
practitioners do not accept this view.
Regarding the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, Mr
Chen told the committee:
At least in the past four years I received two delegations from
the central 610 office, and I was told that there are 60,000 Falun Gong
practitioners in China
– half of them in prison and labour camps. I received some individual cases
when I was working in the Chinese consulate and often used to express this to
the outsiders and media reports to clarify China's
position. Obviously that shows that there is serious persecution in China
of the Falun Gong.
The committee also received evidence from the Falun
Dafa Association of NSW, the Federation for a Democratic China, Mr
Hao and Mr
Z detailing allegations of persecution of
Falun Gong practitioners in China.
Excerpts of evidence regarding the alleged activities of the 610 office towards
Falun Gong practitioners is at Appendix 5.
Of particular concern to the committee were the allegations of monitoring and
harassment of Falun Gong practitioners in Australia.
Spying in Australia
also alleged the operation of an extensive spy and information gathering and
monitoring network in Australia:
I got the number of 1,000 secret agents and informants from a
document and I know that there are two systems operating in the Chinese
missions overseas in some important cities like Canberra
and Sydney. One is the diplomatic
system; the other is the information collection system reporting to the
intelligence service of China.
When I was working in the Chinese consulate in Sydney,
I often accessed reports from Beijing, China,
about some activities of dissidents that even we in Sydney
did not know about. These were from certain intelligence services that
indicated that they were very active in Australia,
especially when there was a very senior official or leader visiting Australia
including Chairman Li Peng
in the year 2002, President Hu Jintao
in the year 2003 and, this year, Chairman Wu
Bangguo. They gave all these information
alerts. That made it very clear to me that there must be a network operating in
repeated these allegations when invited to speak to a US House of
Representatives Human Rights Committee:
According to my knowledge, the persecution on the Falun Gong by
the Chinese Communist Party is a systematic campaign. All the authorities
especially of public security, state security and Foreign Affairs are involved
in the persecution...In each Chinese mission overseas, there must be at least one
official in charge of the Falun Gong affairs, and the head and the deputy head
of the mission will be responsible for the Falun Gong affairs. I am aware there
are over 1000 Chinese secret agents and informants in Australia,
who have played a role in persecuting the Falun Gong...
These claims were supported by other witnesses
including Mr Collaery,
and Professor Fitzgerald.
See Appendix 5 for excerpts of their evidence.
a member of the Federation for a Democratic China (FDC) said that the
government must take action to investigate the spy and informer network claims.
The Falun Dafa Association in Australia
has also called upon the Australian Government to fully examine allegations of
Chinese spies operating in Australia.
told the committee that in his view a message needs to be driven home to China's
representatives in Australia
that surveillance of Australian citizens will not be tolerated. He noted:
It is an opportunity to make a number of very public gestures
which would send a message home that, leaving aside trade, leaving aside
diplomacy and all the constraints and protocols that apply in those areas, when
it comes to Australian sovereignty and citizenship and what happens here, there
is no mucking around – it has to stop.
Government response to allegations
has refused to comment on the spy network claims saying that 'it is a time-worn
tradition of Australian governments over many years not to get into any
discussion about that aspect of intelligence matters'.
ASIO advised that 'Mr
Chen has made allegations in the media that
the PRC government has been engaged in foreign interference and espionage in Australia.
These allegations are being looked at closely and the Government has given Mr
Chen the opportunity to bring forward any
information he wishes'.
Harassment of Australian citizens
allegations went beyond spying activities to the harassment and intimidation of
These claims have been supported and examples have been
provided by the FDC and excerpts of this evidence are at Appendix 5.
The FDC urges the Federal Government to fully
investigate the claims made by Mr Chen
and, if necessary, take firm measures to protect Australian citizens from
harassment by the Chinese Government.
Mr Chin Jin
from the FDC told the committee 'it is my view that governments should take
action to stop the wrong doing of the Chinese communist government's
infiltration and manipulation of the ethnic Chinese community'.
alleged that people have been kidnapped from Australia
and cited a particular case of Lan Meng. According to the press, Lan Meng was
kidnapped by Chinese agents which forced his father Lan Fu to return to China. This case was referred to the AFP
for investigation on 9 June 2005
and they were asked to conduct inquiries to establish whether any criminal
offences occurred in Australia
regarding the allegations of abduction.
Manager Economic and Special Operations, AFP, informed the committee that the
person who was alleged to have been abducted, Lan Meng, was located and
interviewed. Following the completion of inquiries, the AFP concluded that
there was no substance to the allegations.
Notwithstanding that, Ms Russ
confirmed that Lan Meng's statement could not be released to the committee
because it contained important and sensitive information obtained during the
When Mr Chen
was told of the AFP findings, he expressed surprise and questioned whether they
had checked all the details. He thought that Chinese secret agents may have
threatened Lan Meng. Mr Chen
told the committee that Lan Meng's father is still in prison in China
serving a life sentence.
The committee cannot understand the failure of the AFP
to obtain a statement directly from Mr Chen
as to the kidnapping allegations and any other matters within their
jurisdiction. This is a serious allegation but the committee is unable to make
any determination in the matter.
Other issues raised with the committee
Treatment of Chinese nationals
applying for protection
The committee was informed about a number of cases of
Chinese applying for protection visas who experienced some delay before being
granted the visa. For example, Mr Hao
Fengjun, who arrived in Australia
and applied for a protection visa in February 2005, was not contacted by any
government agencies until he went public on 7 June 2005. Professor
a well recognised participant in the pro-democracy movement, had to wait 12
months to get a protection visa. Submission
6 contains further details on these and other cases. The committee draws the
department's attention to what would seem to be undue delay in processing these
cases. Notwithstanding, there is no evidence of them being declared unlawful
Concerns with information used for
The Falun Dafa Association of NSW states that typically
DFAT sources of Country Information from 1999 to 2001 indicate that:
only leaders or activists are at risk of attracting the adverse
attention of the authorities. This may have been true at the start of the
persecution in 1999 but it's clearly no longer the case. As the persecution has
been evolving, leaders of Falun Gong are no longer the only targets. Common
practitioners, family, friends and workplaces of practitioners, overseas
practitioners, as well as other non-practitioners have also become targets of
The association levelled the same criticism at DIMIA
stating that 'DIMIA assessments regularly imply that Falun Gong practitioners
have the choice to stay home and hide ...and if they do then their freedom of
expression or worship will not be compromised'. They state emphatically that this
presumption is not supported by the evidence presented in their submission.
President, Falun Dafa Association of New South Wales, told the committee that
DIMIA believes that only Falun Gong leaders face persecution and that the
private practice would not lead to persecution and that this is incorrect. He stated that 'the persecution is
an attempt to eradicate the belief of every person in China
who believes in Falun Gong. You cannot do that. I think that there is an
acknowledgment on a superficial level that the persecution exists, but there is
no real understanding of how bad it is'.
He added that he raised these concerns with DIMIA and DFAT when they had the
opportunity and submitted additional information for clarification.
In summary, Mr Deller
said that he believed DIMIA exhibits an apparent lack of understanding of the
totalitarian nature of the Chinese communist regime and what that means for
anyone seeking protection.
Questioning of Chinese nationals by
told the committee of a number of Chinese nationals being questioned by Chinese
officials at Sydney's
Villawood detention centre in June 2005. He raised the issue that the Migration
Act or Refugee convention may have been breached by these actions. Mr Deller
told the committee that they have raised the issue with the Minister for
Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs on 31 May 2005 but have
not yet received a reply.
In response, Mr Hughes,
DIMIA, informed the committee:
There was a group of people at Villawood detention Centre many
of whom, I am not sure if it was all, had been through visa processes and found
not to be owed protection by Australia, so therefore the process was completed.
However, they either did not have travel documents that were available to the
department or were not cooperating with their removal. So in order to obtain
travel documents for them, the removals area of the department has to liaise
with the government of their home country about the issuing of travel documents
so that the people can travel home. In some circumstances, the government of
that country, as in this case, wants to actually be certain that the people are
nationals of that country before issuing travel documents and so that is what
that particular process was about. Otherwise, the people concerned would be
potentially faced with very long-term detention. Having completed their visa
possibilities and not got visas, if arrangements were not made to get them
travel documents, they would face prolonged detention.
I am advised that we do not give any information about the
nature of any application to remain in Australia.
We provide the source country with very limited biodata that may help them
identify whether or not the person is a national of that country...We have a name
and date of birth and some other basic details...but we tell them nothing about
any applications that person may have made to stay in Australia or the content
of those applications.
Responding to a question regarding whether people who
had applied for asylum were interviewed by Chinese officials, Hughes
I think the statement in the press at the time was that no-one
who had not completed the asylum process was interviewed. That turned out to be
wrong or partly wrong in one case, where I believe a person was subsequently
found to have been finally determined in terms of a departmental and RRT
decision but was still in litigation of some form, and the minister intervened
to allow that person to stay.
In additional information provided by DIMIA to the
committee on 16 August 2005,
sought to clarify his answer and advised 'the interviews were conducted by
three officials from relevant provincial areas in the PRC. The role of the
officials was to assist the PRC Embassy in Australia in verifying the
nationality and identity of those persons in Villawood Immigration Detention
Centre who may be from the PRC and who are to be repatriated'.
Issues on human rights will be discussed in the Senate
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee report on Australia's relationship
with China due to be tabled 15
The committee draws attention to the allegations regarding
Chinese surveillance carried out in Australia.
It notes that the government has not directly refuted these allegations, which
sometimes went beyond spying to involve harassment and intimidation of
Australian citizens. Only the kidnapping allegation was considered by the AFP to
have no substance. However, the AFP did not interview Mr
The committee understands that this is a most sensitive
issue for the government. Even so, in light of the allegations now on the
public record, the government should make some response to them. In so doing,
take the opportunity to state publicly that the Australian government takes
very seriously its obligations to protect those resident in Australia
and will not tolerate its laws being disregarded.
SENATOR STEVE HUTCHINS
Navigation: Previous Page | Contents | Next Page