Saturday, July 11, 2009

Australian Stern Hu 'thrown to the Chinese wolves'

Stern Hu 'thrown to the wolves'

By Matt O'Sullivan

The jailed Australian businessman Sterh Hu in 1991.

STERN HU has been "thrown to the wolves".

That is the view of John Dougall, the former boss of the Rio Tinto executive detained in Shanghai. Describing Mr Hu as a "trade hero", Mr Dougall called for the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, to act quickly to ensure "these outrageous charges are dropped".

"I just want to speak out strongly and say, 'here is a great Australian that we need to get behind'. Mr Rudd has to do more than sit back and let Stern be thrown to the wolves," he told the Herald yesterday. "The allegations are pretty serious. Espionage is a very serious charge in China. I just can't believe that this has happened to him."

Mr Dougall, the executive chairman of the Australian services company AWA, joined many of Mr Hu's former colleagues in Sydney in describing the Australian as a man of high integrity who was responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars of exports to China.


He sponsored Mr Hu's bid for citizenship in 1994, which meant the Tianjin native had to give up his Chinese passport. "I saw him in action with all levels of the Chinese Government," Mr Dougall said. "Many people in Australia and China regard Stern as a trade hero and his treatment is outrageous."

Mr Dougall and Ron Gosbee, chief executive of Interscan Navigation Systems, have been in daily contact with Mr Hu's wife, Julie, since he was arrested on Sunday.

"She is shocked, as you would expect," Mr Gosbee said. "She doesn't know why he was taken … and had no idea what the charges were." Mr Gosbee said Ms Hu had expected her husband to be released on Tuesday night. "She is being told nothing. The only information she is getting is gleaned from the consular office.

"The problem is no one knows what is going on and everyone feels a little bit helpless," he said.

Mr Gosbee said Ms Hu had told him her husband had not expressed any concerns that he was about to be arrested.

"He is of the highest integrity," he said. "His ethics are so high he just would not get involved in anything that was not above board."

Mr Hu's parents endured years in labour camps during the Cultural Revolution, a fate Mr Gosbee hopes does not await his close friend of 20 years.

"One of the reasons I really feel for him is that … he was left on his own and later with his grandparents when his parents were put in a labour camp.

"Just to think that any foreign citizen can be plucked from the street and incarcerated without charge is pretty scary. The problem with the legal system in China is no one understands it outside China."

Mr Hu joined AWA in 1990 as its China manager in Beijing. He left six years later to work for CRA, now Rio Tinto. His wife lived in Manly for about two years in the early 1990s, during which time she gained Australian citizenship. The Hus have lived in Shanghai since 2000. They have two children, Terence, who is about 20 and working in hospitality, and Charlie, about 15.

Mr Hu lived in Sydney for about eight months but never worked here. Instead, he regularly brought out delegations from China's civil aviation authority.

Roger Chan, a former AWA executive, said his friend's arrest was a complete shock. "We don't believe he would steal state secrets. That is just nonsense," he said.

Recent Posts from Burma Wants Freedom and Democracy

Recent posts from WHO is WHO in Burma


The Nuke Light of Myanmar Fan Box
The Nuke Light of Myanmar on Facebook
Promote your Page too