The following letter to the editor of The Age by my colleague Andrew Farran, former diplomat and former member of the Faculty of Law at Monash University was published on 24 March 2010.
Concerning the so-called trial in China of Stern Hu, the Australian citizen and Rio Tinto trade negotiator, we hear Prime Minister Rudd repeating the mantra that China has a different legal system from us and that this has to be respected.
The big omission from this observation is that China is bound under international law to observe the bilateral and multilateral agreements to which it is a party, specifically concerning the rights of foreign nationals in its jurisdiction and its duties in turn in that regard.
The procedures and processes imposed in the Stern Hu case flagrantly violate those rights and duties. Secrecy both as to process and evidence, and from what we can now deduce, forced confessions, are not aspects to be condoned by our government, and in doing so we as a nation loose respect internationally and in China itself.
Are we so intimidated by China that we have to betray the principles and standards we pride ourselves on when dealing with lesser powers?