China issues veiled threat to NSW MPs over attendance at organ trade forum

Don Harwin, president of the NSW Legislative Council, received the letter from the Chinese consul general. Photo: Dallas Kilponen China has launched an extraordinary bid to prevent NSW MPs from attending a briefing on the international human organ trade at Parliament House by implying that economic cooperation with Australia and NSW could be threatened if they show up.

In a letter to the president of the NSW Legislative Council, Don Harwin, on Monday night, the Chinese consul general in Sydney, Li Huaxin, says the involvement of the religious group Falun Dafa in the briefing is of “deep concern” and asks him to forward the correspondence to all NSW MPs.

Falun Dafa is a branch of Falun Gong, which has been banned in China since 1999. Falun Gong accuses the Chinese government of murdering its practitioners to harvest their organs.

It says this explains why there are thousands of organs transplanted in China each year despite so few people being on the official donor register. However, China has said the main source of its organs is death row prisoners.

In the letter, Mr Li describes Falun Gong as a “downright anti-China group” and an “exotic heretical cult”.

“At present, the China-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership enjoys smooth development and the China-NSW cooperation is continuously deepening in all fields,” he writes.

“I hope that you, as president of the Legislative Council, could remind the MPs to be mindful of the nature of the Falun Gong organisation and the sensitiveness of the above mentioned issue, not to participate in any activities which are presented by the Falun Gong organisation, intended to spread anti-China propaganda and preach cult messages”.

Mr Li says allegations of an “unethical organ trade” are “entirely groundless”.

“The Chinese government has attached great importance to the protection of human rights and carried out strict rules on the transplant of organ [sic]”.

Mr Li signs off: “I look forward to working closely with you to jointly push forward the development of China-NSW relations.”

Tuesday’s “Briefing on Unethical Organ Trade and Impact on NSW” has been organised by NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge.

The invitation states that the forum will discuss how NSW can “champion positive change with legislation for Australia and set an example for the international community”, the ethical considerations of transplant tourism and the implications of aftercare of overseas operations in NSW hospitals.

On Monday, Mr Shoebridge slammed the letter as “an extraordinary and inappropriate intervention in Australian domestic politics by the Chinese government”.

“I hope MPs will be principled enough to stand up to this bullying by the Consulate and attend the briefing,” he said.

“The unethical international trade in human organs goes well beyond China and deserves an informed and open debate, not this heavy-handed politicking”.

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