Saturday, August 1, 2009

China summons Australian ambassador

(AAP)- CHINA has summoned Australia's ambassador to the foreign ministry in China to protest the visit of exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer to Australia, state press reported.

Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun said China was strongly dissatisfied and opposed to the visit of Kadeer as she is the head of the "separatist" group the World Uighur Congress (WUC), Xinhua news agency said in a late Friday dispatch.

Zhang told Ambassador Geoff Raby that Australia must not allow Kadeer to engage in any anti-Chinese separatist activities during her visit, the report said.

Australia should "immediately correct its wrongdoings", it said, apparently referring to Canberra's decision to issue a visa to the 62-year-old grandmother and Nobel Peace Prize candidate.

"The WUC led by Kadeer is believed to have masterminded the July 5 Xinjiang riots that left at least 197 people dead and 1600 others injured," Xinhua said.

Australia has rebuffed Chinese objections over Kadeer's visit, saying she is not a "terrorist" and there is no reason to exclude her.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Kadeer had been given a visa for next week's visit, during which she will launch a documentary about her life and meet members of Australia's Uighur community.

"This will be, I think, her third private visit," Smith told Sky News on Thursday.

"We have no evidence or information that she's a terrorist and so she has been granted a visa in accordance with our usual immigration procedures."

Kadeer will attend the August 11 launch in Melbourne of the film 10 Conditions of Love, which China tried to have withdrawn from the city's film festival.

All seven Chinese-language films have since pulled out of the festival, most in protest, although one director withdrew his documentary because he feared repercussions.

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