Australian MPs will next week vote on a motion calling for the release of Nobel Peace Prize-winning Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, in a move that could anger Beijing.
Michael Danby, a member of the ruling Labor party and chairman of the foreign affairs parliamentary subcommittee, said he would put forward a resolution calling for Liu’s release and repeal of his 11-year sentence.
“The proposed resolution, which will go before the parliament next week, will call for the release of Mr Liu Xiaobo to receive his Nobel Peace Prize,” Danby, an MP from Melbourne, told AFP.
“We think he should be released altogether.”
The resolution calls for Australia’s parliament to congratulate Liu for winning the prize “for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China”.
It “calls for Liu to be released and his sentence repealed” and “supports the right of Chinese citizens to call for political reform, greater protection of human rights and democratisation in their country”.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has welcomed the awarding of the prize to Liu, who was jailed last December after penning “Charter 08”, a political reform manifesto signed by more than 300 Chinese intellectuals, academics and writers.
Gillard has also echoed US and European calls for Liu to be freed.
Beijing responded furiously to the prize, calling it “blasphemy” and summoning the Norwegian ambassador to warn it would damage relations.
Danby agreed that resource-rich Australia’s commercial links with China, its top trading partner, were critical but said it was equally important to take a stand on human rights.
“I think Australia betrays its own values and makes ourselves look weak to our Chinese friends if we don’t know how to maintain a commercial relationship while, at the same time, having very clear differences in areas such as politics, human rights and international affairs,” he said.