MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
8 September 1999
Australia - China Consular Agreement and Agreement on Consular Functions in Macau
I am pleased to announce that I have today signed on Australia's behalf the new Consular Agreement with the People's Republic of China.
The Agreement was signed on the Chinese side by Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Yang Jiechi. The Prime Minister Mr Howard and visiting President of China, Mr Jiang Zemin, were present at the signing ceremony.
The Agreement marks an important step forward in our relations with China, as more and more Australians are travelling, studying and doing business in China. The Agreement will provide Australians with greater certainty about what consular services are available from their representatives in China and the extent of those services.
Under the Agreement there are guarantees for notification of the arrest and detention of Australian citizens and timeframes established for access to them. If Chinese officials detain an Australian national, they must now notify relevant Australian consular officials of the arrest within three days and a consular visit to the detainee must be permitted within two days thereafter. Monthly consular visits are also guaranteed. Reasons must also be provided for the detention of an Australian national and the details of any charges. Consular representation at trials is also guaranteed. The Agreement also provides for annual consultations to review the consular relationship including any issue of concern to either party, as well as ad hoc consultation on difficult consular cases as required from time to time.
The Agreement is also good news for our Australian Chinese community. It reaffirms that an Australian Chinese national who enters China on an Australian passport is entitled to consular access and assistance from Australian consular posts. The regular consultations under the Agreement will provide a mechanism for discussing cases which arise from time to time involving Australian Chinese nationals who choose to travel on Chinese documentation. Those who choose to do so should be aware however that China rejects dual nationality, and that they may encounter difficulties in obtaining normal consular access and assistance if problems arise.
At the same ceremony, I also signed a separate Agreement Concerning the Continuation of Consular Functions in Macau. This specifies that after the reversion of Macau to Chinese administration on 20 December 1999, the Australian Consulate General in Hong Kong shall continue to handle Australian consular interests in Macau.
Minister - Innes Willox 02 6277 7500
Department - Mark Croxford 02 6261 1555
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