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NZ should offer refuge to Chinese defector: Locke

8 June 2005

NZ should offer refuge to Chinese defector: Locke

Green MP Keith Locke wants New Zealand to offer former Chinese diplomat, Chen Yonglin, asylum in New Zealand.

Mr Chen is in hiding after walking away from his job at the Chinese consulate-general in Sydney, and has claimed that China has a network of spies in Australia that regularly kidnap dissenters and send them home.

"You don't need to be a brain surgeon to know that Mr Chen will get it in the neck if he is forced to return to China," said Mr Locke, the Green Party's Human Rights and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson.

"We all know the Chinese regime doesn't brook any political criticism and will be particularly angry that one of its own diplomats has spoken out.

"Mr Chen is getting mucked around by Australian officials desperate not to offend China. An offer of refuge from New Zealand could embarrass the Howard Government into giving Mr Chen his rightful asylum. And we would be providing Mr Chen with a fall back in case he doesn't succeed in Australia.

"We took the Tampa refugees when Australia closed their doors to them. This situation is much the same.

"Offering asylum would be a humanitarian gesture showing that the Labour-led Government does take human rights in China seriously," said Mr Locke.


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