Subject - The Chinese Government's detainment of, and legal proceedings against, Australian citizen and Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu on the charges of corruption and espionage.
We have noted a somewhat hysterical campaign in the Australian media relating to China's lawful detainment of Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu. This discussion involved numerous Australian government officials, members of the opposition, academics, as well as experts from various 'foundations', all of whom theorised as to why Mr Hu had been arrested and what it all meant. In amongst this multitude of views, we noted that not a single individual raised, or even considered, the possibility that Stern Hu might actually be guilty of the crimes with which he is charged. It was as if the media brief had been: 'We must consider every angle of this story except for that one'.
We understand that the Australian people, like the Chinese people, are particularly partial to gambling. In this context, amongst all the possibilities that one might lay odds on here, the possibility that Mr Hu just might be guilty seems neither to have short odds, nor long odds, but rather not to be on the bookmakers board at all. Does this not strike anyone as curious?
We note that in the endless media coverage that crime warrants in the Australian media, discussions invariably pivot on whether the accused did or didn't do it. Keen as we are on Australian history, Schapelle Corby comes to mind. However, we were unable to find a single previous case wherein every commentator's starting position was an assumption that the charges must be false. We found many cases where guilt was assumed, such as that of Lindy Chamberlain, but none where the charged individual's innocence was so completely taken for granted that the entire discussion completely and utterly pivoted on the ulterior motives of the arresting authority.
We will admit that were Australia utterly free of corruption, the failure to consider this likelihood would not be unreasonable. And yet on the exact same newspaper front pages that refuse to consider the possibility of Mr Hu as being guilty as charged, is the story of Australian state politician Mr Gordon Nuttall, tried for high level corruption, being found 'guilty as charged'. Clearly Australian businessmen bribe Australian politicians in the hopes of receiving favourable treatment. Your own courts and royal commissions have declared this an incontrovertible fact. And yet despite this, and despite the historical precedent of Australian involvment in the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal, the Australian media utterly refuses to concede that Australian businessmen might replicate this behaviour in China.
That aside, we are not about to take any holier-than-thou stance on this issue. We freely admit that China, like Australia, suffers from the ills of corruption. And like Australia, the Chinese government arrests, tries, and punishes those involved in these pernicious acts. Indeed we punish corruption very harshly - certainly more harshly than the effective two year sentence (after time off for good behaviour) that was handed down to Mr Nuttall. Of course, Mr Nuttall's sentence is none of our business, as are all matters pertaining to the Australian legal system.
That being said, recent statements by the Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, to the effect that the verdict in the Nuttall case was proof that the system works and also that the government and judiciary were serious in their efforts to root out corruption, could have been lifted word for word from Chinese government media releases. In many ways China and Australia have a lot in common.
Echoing this thought, as a people as proud of our country as Australians are of theirs, we also understand that the people of Australia would hold a dim view of us, or indeed any foreign government and media, wagging a collective finger at Australian legal proceedings. Keen to seek commonalities, we would consider viewing such behaviour poorly as perfectly reasonable.
With this in mind, may I say as China's Premier that China looks forward to a relationship with Australia that is free of rancour and distrust, and instead embodies harmony, well-being, and prosperity for both our countries.