Chen Yonglin, 37, is seeking asylum in Australia, saying he fears for his life after he walked out of the Chinese consulate-general in Sydney 12 days ago.
In hiding with his wife Jin Ping, 38, and their six-year-old daughter, he says he faces persecution if he returns home after his four-year posting in Australia.
Mr Chen was denied a visa in an application received by the
Immigration Department on June 3.
But after meeting with a lawyer provided by the Green Party, he lodged an application with Mr Downer for a rare territorial asylum visa.
“There is now no doubt Chen Yonglin has made a direct written application to the minister for foreign affairs for political asylum in Australia and a copy of that has gone to the prime minister,” Greens leader Senator Bob Brown told ABC radio.
Senator Brown said a claim by the Chinese ambassador to Australia, Madame Fu Ying, that Mr Chen would not be punished if he returned to China was not true.
Federal Treasurer Peter Costello says Australia’s economic relationship with Beijing shouldn’t be taken into account when considering his plea for asylum.
Mr Costello says he is sure Mr Chen’s claim will be processed properly.
“I think they should be decided very squarely on the grounds that he’s claimed, he said.
“Whether or not he has a legitimate ground to be considered a refugee, I think that’s the ground on which these things should be decided.”
China’s ambassador to Australia says she cannot guarantee that Mr Yonglin would not be punished if he went home.
But Madame Fu Ying said there were no grounds for fearing the type of persecution that Mr Yonglin says he’ll suffer.
She told ABC radio the federal government has asked her what would happen if Mr Chen returned to his homeland.
She said it was not for her to judge whether relations between Australia and China would be damaged if Australia granted Mr Chen a visa.