For Immediate Release: 30 March 2023

Tenzin Lobsang Khangsar PH: 0432 396 431
Victorian Tibetan Community & Australia Tibet Council Co-chair
Dr Zoe Bedford, PH: 0408 262 576
Executive officer, Australia Tibet Council

5 Questions for Premier Dan Andrews about his trip to China from the Tibetans of Australia

The Tibetan Community of Victoria and the Australia Tibet Council have the following questions for Premier Dan Andrews upon the renewal of Victoria’s trade relations with China.

Q1: Will Premier Dan Andrews speak out about human rights violations in Tibet while in China?

Tibet is currently ranked by the Freedom House index as the least free country in the world, with reports of human rights abuses, arbitrary arrest, torture and deaths in prison at the hands of Chinese Government officials occurring frequently.

The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) is the only provincial-level region of China that requires foreigners to obtain a special permit to enter, and foreign journalists are regularly prevented from visiting. Journalists also face barriers in access to Tibetan areas of Sichuan and other provinces, though no permission is officially required to travel to those places. Tibetans who communicate with foreign media or other foreign contacts without permission face criminal prosecution and long prison sentences. Tibetans living in  Australia are not able to communicate with their families in Tibet freely without exposing them to the risk of arrest and torture.

When Foreign Minister Penny Wong travelled to China in December 2022 she DID raise human rights concerns and Tibet. Penny Wong reported back to the Tibetan community and Australia Tibet Council that she had communicated Australia’s “principled view about the observance and respect for human rights”. She further assured the Australia Tibet Council that “The Government will continue to raise our concerns about the human rights situation in Tibet, publicly and privately, in multilateral fora and directly with China, including at the highest levels.”

On 1 March, in Geneva, Assistant Foreign Minister Watts delivered Australia's national statement at the High-Level Segment of the fifty-second session of the Human Rights Council, stating “Australia’s concerns about reports of the erosion of education, religious, cultural and linguistic rights and freedoms in Tibet.”

But Premier Dan Andrews has made no such commitment to speak out about Human rights abuses in Tibet.

Q2: We believe that Australians are more concerned about Human Rights than trade deals, will Premier Dan Andrews prioritise the interests of Australia while dealing with China?

Premier Dan Andrews does not have a good track record in prioritising the interest of Australia. In 2021, the then Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, cancelled the controversial Victorian Government’s Belts and Roads agreement with China. Stating at the time that they were “inconsistent with Australia’s foreign policy or adverse to our foreign relations”, after the contracts were reviewed by Australia’s Foreign Relations Act or Foreign Interference and Transparency Act.

The Dan Andrews Government failed to prove the Belt and Road projects he had with China were in Australia’s National Interest.

Q3: Why is there such a lack of transparency around Premier Dan Andrews trip to China?

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews is travelling to China to reestablish trade without any Australian media or a full public disclosure to the purpose of his tax-payer funded trip. The State Premier is travelling to have direct diplomatic engagement with a foreign government bypassing the Australian federal government. This visit to China by Premier Dan Andrews needs to be transparent and any agreements made while in China should be subject to the scrutiny of the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme (FITS). 

Q4: Why is there currently a lack of Human rights accountability in the re-establishment of trade relations with China?

If the Labor Government is determined to pursue a renewal of trade relations with the Chinese Government, then the Australia Tibet Council demands a process or mechanism for human rights accountability will accompany any trade deals.

In the past, Australia’s relationship with China included a bilateral human rights dialogue. However, this is not a process that the Australia Tibet Council would like to see returned. The bilateral human rights dialogue was an ineffective process where there was no transparency and very little accountability, and even less genuinely achieved for human rights in China. However, at present, there is NO process to challenge the Chinese Government on their human rights abuses in Tibet - it is the responsibility of the Australian Government to develop one.

Any process developed by the Australian Government to address human rights abuses in China should meet the following conditions;
Use Australian laws, such as the Autonomous Sanctions Amendment (Magnitsky-style and Other Thematic Sanctions) Act 2021, to ensure CCP officials face consequences for their human rights abuses.

Be inclusive of and accountable to Australian civil society and the communities in Australia who are victimised by the CCP. Have specific time-bound outcomes designed to effectively impact human rights in China and Tibet. Have specific outcomes outside of dialogue (dialogue can not be both the goal and outcome). Be accountable to the Australian people and uphold Australian values.

We firmly believe that members of the Chinese Government should be facing Magnitsky sanctions for their human rights abuses rather than be rewarded with trade deals from Australia.

Q5: Is Victorian Premier Dan Andrews aware that the UN is currently investigating the Chinese Government’s removal of approximately 1 million Tibetan Children from their families, language, culture and religion? 

On 6th February 2023, the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues; Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights; Special Rapporteur on the right to education and Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, released a statement expressing alarm about ‘the residential school system for Tibetan children [which] appears to act as a mandatory large-scale programme intended to assimilate Tibetans into majority Han culture, contrary to international human rights standards”

Further, concern was raised by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) who said “Tibetan children as young as four to six are being sent to boarding schools where they are completely deprived of access to their language and their culture”.

By intentionally uprooting Tibetan children from their families and culture, and making them live in state-run boarding schools, the Chinese authorities are using one of the most heinous tools of colonisation to attack Tibetan identity.

While the Chinese Government claims to be educating Tibetan children, the world knows what it looks like when children are forced into residential schools run by a state that wants to wipe out their culture, including high levels of alienation, loss of identity and intergenerational trauma - it looks like another stolen generation.

Will Premier Dan Andrews stand by and allow another stolen generation to occur while he is making trade deals with China?

Again, we firmly believe that members of the Chinese Government should be facing Magnitsky sanctions for their human rights abuses rather than be rewarded with trade deals from Australia.

Finally, will Premier Dan Andrews answer these questions upon his return to Australia?


About ATC:

Australia Tibet Council campaigns for the freedom and human rights of Tibetans. Our vision is a free Tibet in which Tibetans can determine their own future and freely pursue their cultural, political and economic developments. We are inspired by the Tibetans who have resisted China’s occupation of their homeland with courage, hope and tenacity. We are a not-for-profit organisation funded by members across Australia. Founded in 1988, we are the largest community of Australians standing in solidarity with the people of Tibet.


For further comment, please contact:

Tenzin Lobsang Khangsar PH: 0432 396 431

Victorian Tibetan Community & Australia Tibet Council Co-chair


Dr Zoe Bedford, PH: 0408 262 576

Executive Officer, Australia Tibet Council

For further information about human rights abuses in Tibet please see: