Australian actor convicted on drug smuggling charges . . .
An Australian citizen has been sentenced to death in China on drug smuggling charges. Karm Gilespie, a former actor in Australia, was charged with smuggling 7.5 kg of crystal methamphetamine into China after being arrested at Guangzhou airport in 2013. However, the circumstances surrounding his arrest and trial are murky. Until the sentence was announced three days ago, very little was known about Gilespie’s whereabouts. International journalists have been able to access only a short notice about the conviction and sentence even though details of criminal drug cases in China are expected to be on the public record.
Escalating bilateral tensions . . .
The bilateral relationship is icy, with the sentence just the latest in a tit-for-tat series of measures, which many characterize as reprisals. In 2018, Australia banned Huawei from participating in its 5G network. In recent months, Australia has prominently called for the World Health Organization to investigate China’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, Canberra revised its foreign direct investment law to require a review of all foreign investments into the country, a move interpreted as an attempt to prevent Chinese purchases of distressed Australian assets. In response, China effectively banned imports of Australian barley last month and has warned Chinese citizens not to travel to Australia on account of an increase in anti-Asian racist attacks. Australia’s Foreign Minister will make a public speech tomorrow on the country’s international interests and the promotion of Australian values abroad to support the rules-based global order, which is expected to focus on China.
Parallels to the Canada-China relationship . . .
Canada’s relationship with China has been similarly troubled following the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver in December 2018, the subsequent arrest of two Canadians – the ‘two Michaels’ – in China on charges of endangering state security, and increasing the sentence of a convicted Canadian drug smuggler in China to death at an unexpected retrial. Beijing has also banned imports of Canadian agricultural products, including canola, pork, and beef. The Canada-China and Australia-China bilateral situations appear strikingly similar, raising possibilities of further collaboration between Ottawa and Canberra.
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Why China is executing an Australian (Audio)
- BNN Bloomberg: Lawmakers in Eight Countries Form New Alliance to Counter China
- The Sydney Morning Herald: Australian sentenced to death in China on drug charges