By Eva Cheng
The Chinese government's latest nuclear test, on August 16, has triggered a wave of protests across the country. The latest test took place at Lop Nor in China's north west province of Xinjiang, the same site as the May 15 nuclear test.
At very short notice, more than 240 people gathered at Chinese embassies or city squares in Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane on August 17 and in Perth on August 18.
The Sydney action outside the Chinese consulate, called by the Campaign Against Nuclear Testing (CANT), drew about 100 people who were honked and given the thumbs-up by passing drivers. Consulate officials, who had locked themselves behind closed doors, did peep out occasionally. Representatives from Greenpeace, People for Nuclear Disarmament, the Uniting Church as well as the Friends of the Earth, addressed the rally.
Speakers at the protest outside the Chinese embassy in Canberra urged the Australian government to ban all mining and export of uranium. An ACT Trades and Labour Council representative told protesters that union would place industrial bans against the Chinese embassy as they have with the French.
In Brisbane, the protest at King George Square was organised by the newly formed Anti-Nuclear Alliance and attracted 60 activists. A range of speakers, including Drew Hutton of the Queensland Greens, long-term peace activist Bert Nord as well as Sam Wainwright from the Democratic Socialist Party, spoke.
Greens (WA) Senator Dee Margetts and former Nuclear Disarmament Party senator Jo Valentine were among the speakers who addressed the Perth protest outside the Chinese embassy.
Highlighting the environmental and human costs of such tests as well as hypocrisy of the nuclear states' so-called commitment to nuclear non-proliferation, Margetts demanded that the Australia government stop siding with these states, and begin to work for real disarmament.
"Australians should do all in their power to give support to the Turkic peoples of China to stop these flagrant abuses of human rights just as they have stood up for the rights of people in the South Pacific", said Margetts.
The Medical Association for the Prevention of War, Greenpeace and the Greens (WA) are demanding that the federal government recall Australia's ambassador to China as an act of protest. MAPW has also called on people to boycott Chinese products and for a protest message to be taken to the International Court. "The purpose of these tests is clearly about the development of new warheads", said MAPW.
Jean McSorley of Greenpeace called on the Australian government to suspend all military and/or nuclear cooperation, including the 1992 joint project on nuclear waste technology, SYNROC. She said that it should sponsor resolutions condemning the Chinese tests in all relevant international fora.
CANT in Sydney is preparing for emergency demonstrations to be held at 4pm on the day after a nuclear test outside the consulate of the country which conducts it. It has also organised a demonstration for September 2 at 12.30pm at First Fleet Park. The Anti-Nuclear Alliance in Brisbane is organising an anti-nuclear rally on Friday, September 1 at 4.30pm in King George Square and emergency protests will be held at the same venue and time on the day of any nuclear tests.
[See editorial on page 10.]