Saturday, 24 November 2012

Australian-Chinese cardiac surgeon jailed in Beijing after business dispute

Dr Du Zhuying ran a blood plasma product company in China
by John Garnaut and Philip Wen
An Australian cardiac surgeon has been jailed in China after his local partner allegedly stripped him of the business he founded and listed it on the Nasdaq stock exchange.
The case of Du Zuying, who was a heart and lung transplant specialist at St Vincent’s Hospital and Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital, is perhaps the most startling in a series of murky prosecutions of ethnic Chinese Australians since the 2009 arrest of the Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu.
The company Dr Du founded, China Biologic Products, supplies blood plasma products to Chinese hospitals and is now valued at just under $300 million.
Neither the Australian government nor Dr Du’s family were initially notified of his detention in what was the first of several apparent breaches of China’s procedural laws and treaty obligations with Australia.
The case highlights how China’s failure to develop a credible legal system is eroding faith in its  capital markets, preventing technological innovation and increasingly affecting actors well beyond China’s shores.
It also raises questions about whether Australian ministers and officials  are systematically discouraging publicity of politically awkward ‘‘consular’’ cases in China, contrary to the wishes of Australian detainees and the advice of Chinese lawyers and international experts.
Diplomats urged the Du family to exercise “extreme caution” before approaching the media. The case was   concealed from public view for nearly two years.
Dr Du was detained at Beijing’s Capital Airport on February 9, 2011, while waiting to board  a flight to Australia where he would see his wife, Gong Jinxiu, and twin sons Tommy and Bruce.
“I waited four or five hours at Sydney Airport after the signal board said the flight had landed,” said Tommy Du, a 30-year-old tax professional at a big  Australian company.
The family discovered his father had been detained through informal channels but did not receive official confirmation for nearly two weeks.
The family arrived in Australia in 1989 and obtained citizenship in the early 1990s.
Dr Du developed a new powdered form of blood plasma protein that he hoped would help alleviate an acute shortage of blood for emergency transfusions in poor areas of rural China, such as  Hunan province where he was born.
It might have been one of Australia’s most successful biotech ventures if not for a series of opaque transactions that transferred Dr Du’s majority shareholding into the hands of his Chinese business partners.
Dr Du’s Beijing lawyer, Huang Kaiguo, says he is acting without payment because he is appalled at the treatment of “a great scientist” who has developed technology “that can benefit humanity”.
“This is the most miserable case I’ve come across in 10 years as a lawyer,” he said.
Read more: Sydney Morning Herald

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