03 August 2009

Australia visa grant to exiled Uighur leader sparks Chinese opposition

Australia's ambassador has been summoned to the foreign ministry in China as the Chinese government protest the Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer receiving a temporary Australia visa grant.

Rebiya Kadeer

Exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer has been granted a temporary Australia visa. (Image: Matthias Kehrein/The Epoch Times).

Rebiya Kadeer is head of the World Uighur Congress (WUC), and has been given a temporary Australia visa to attend the Melbourne International Film Festival, where she is scheduled to take part in a question-and-answer session after a screening of a documentary about her life.

However, the visa grant has sparked controversy, with Australian Ambassador Geoff Raby summoned to speak with the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun, who has said that China is is strongly dissatisfied and opposed to Kadeer being granted the temporary Australian visa.

The report comes from the Xinhua news agency, which goes onto say that Minister Zhang Zhijun has demanded that Australia "immediately correct its wrongdoings" and not allow Kadeer to visit Australia or "engage in any anti-Chinese separatist activities in the territory of Australia".

The Chinese objections have been raised due to their accusations that Kadeer was responsible for instigating recent ethnic riots that killed nearly 200 people.

However, the Australian government has clarified its posItion, with Foreign Minister Stephen Smith telling Sky News: "We have no evidence or information that she's a terrorist and so she has been granted a visa in accordance with our usual immigration procedures."

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their Australia visa applications. 

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