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Last Updated: Monday, 6 June, 2005, 04:37 GMT 05:37 UK
China defector accuses Australia
Chen Yonglin
Monitoring dissidents in Australia was one of Chen Yonglin's tasks
A fugitive Chinese diplomat has accused Australian officials of refusing his asylum request within 24 hours and without interviewing him.

Chen Yonglin also told an Australian newspaper that officials tipped off his bosses immediately after he requested political asylum.

Mr Chen said he was defecting as he could no longer support what he said was China's persecution of dissidents.

The Chinese consulate said Mr Chen had made up stories to avoid going home.

Mr Chen, 37, who worked as the Chinese consul for political affairs in Sydney, has been refused political asylum but he could be given a protection visa.

Australian authorities have confirmed they had received an application for a protection visa from the diplomat, but did not comment on the asylum application they had allegedly rejected.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said the diplomat's asylum application would not receive special treatment.

The defection attempt has come at a delicate time, as Australia and China are trying to deepen economic and political ties.

'Thousand spies'

Mr Chen is believed to have gone into hiding with his wife and daughter.

The diplomat said he had been responsible for monitoring Chinese dissident activity in Australia, including that of members of the spiritual movement, Falun Gong, which is banned in China.

He also said that there were up to 1,000 Chinese spies in Australia.

I didn't think it would happen like this - Australia is a democratic country
Chen Yonglin

In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald published on Monday, Mr Chen said he walked into the Department of Immigration in Sydney with his family on 26 May.

He said he had offered information on Chinese spies and kidnappings in Australia, but had been turned down. He was discouraged from applying for asylum and denied a safe haven, he said.

He said officers also called the Chinese embassy. The Chinese consulate then called his mobile, at which point he decided to go into hiding.

When he finally met with Australian officials last Tuesday, he was told to apply for a tourist visa, he said.

"I didn't think it would happen like this. Australia is a democratic country," he added. "I thought they would help me. My family is desperate. We are helpless. We need to be in a safe place."

'No human rights'

China's consulate said in a statement on Sunday that Mr Chen had reached the end of his four-year stint in Australia and was making up his allegations because he did not want to return to China.

"Chen Yonglin fabricated stories which are unfounded and purely fictitious," it said.

On Saturday, Mr Chen appeared at a rally in Sydney, saying that Chinese spies were trying to kidnap him and take him back to China.

"I'm frightened that if they send [me] back to China, I certainly will be prosecuted, because in my working for four years in the consulate I have been helping in some way the pro-democracy activists and the Falun Gong people," he said.

"In 16 years, the Chinese government has done nothing for political reform. People have no political freedom, no human rights."

Mr Chen was involved in the Tiananmen Square protests and joined the diplomatic corps after being re-educated.


SEE ALSO:
China diplomat makes asylum plea
04 Jun 05 |  Asia-Pacific
China walks nationalist tightrope
03 May 05 |  Asia-Pacific
China's intolerance of dissent
07 Mar 05 |  Asia-Pacific
China defends human rights record
01 Mar 05 |  Asia-Pacific


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