China opposes Australia giving asylum to diplomat

  • World
  • Monday, 11 Jul 2005

By Andrew Gray

BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Monday voiced "resolute opposition" to Australia's decision to grant asylum to a former Chinese diplomat and dismissed his accusations that he faced execution if repatriated as "lies not worthy of response". 

Chen Yonglin, 37, a former Chinese political affairs consul in Sydney, his wife and their daughter will be able to stay in Australia and work after receiving permanent protection visas last Friday. 

"China resolutely opposes the Australian government's decision to give Chen a 'protection visa'," China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement faxed to Reuters. 

Chen lobbied for asylum in May after claiming China had up to 1,000 spies operating in Australia. 

The former diplomat also voiced fears he could have been jailed or executed if he returned to China, which he said had kidnapped critics and whisked them back inside its borders. 

China dismissed "lies created" by Chen, saying they were not worthy of response. 

"China is a country ruled by law and handles affairs in accordance with the law. The so-called issue of 'political persecution' does not exist at all," the ministry said. 

Chen has said his role at the Chinese consulate was to spy on and persecute practitioners of Falun Gong, an amalgam of religions, meditation and exercises that the Chinese government branded an evil cult after about 10,000 members surrounded the government leadership compound in Beijing in a 1999 protest. 

Australia and China have said the diplomat's asylum bid would not harm bilateral relations. 

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