The federal government is going to great lengths to cosy up to China.
THIS column considers an apology.
Not by State Scene, but by The West Australian's columnist, Gerard Henderson.
In his April 7 column headlined, 'All the way with Obama's Way', Mr Henderson referred to a previous column, 'Secret visits by Chinese raise valid questions', in which he wrote: "Last week I wrote that [Foreign Minister] Stephen Smith's meeting with Chinese minister Zhou Yongkang last November was held in secret. This is incorrect. Apologies''.
The first column focused on a hush-hush visit by propaganda, media and ideology party boss, Li Changchun, who met Kevin Rudd in Canberra as well as several Australian media chiefs, including Kerry Stokes.
Mr Henderson had previously written: "The Australian public was unaware of Mr Li's visit until it was revealed by journalists, including The West Australian's federal political editor, Andrew Probyn.
"Yesterday, John Garnaut, reported in The Sydney Morning Herald that China's security and intelligence chief Zhou Yongkang also made a secret visit to Australia in November and had talks with Foreign Minister Stephen Smith in Perth."
State Scene has learned Mr Henderson has had a copy of a November 6 2008 article from The West Australian sent to him, which reported Mr Smith meeting Mr Zhou in Perth.
Mr Henderson consequently retracted his claim of a Perth Smith-Zhou secret meeting.
But are things that simple? Is Mr Smith in the clear?
Most definitely not.
State Scene learned of the Zhou visit a week after it happened - in mid-November.
It was reported in an article of November 5 2008, in The Epoch Times, a Chinese English-newspaper associated with Chinese worldwide who object to how their people are treated by the authoritarian hard-line Communists who monopolise power.
Among other things it reported that Mr Zhou was the chief persecutor of Falun Gong spiritual movement.
"Mr Zhou is now head of the Political and Judiciary Committee, a Party organ that controls the Ministry of Public Security, the Supreme People's Court, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of State Security," The Epoch Times reported.
A headline read: "A senior Chinese official accused of genocide is visiting Australia."
"Protesters around the country are asking why he was given a visa while others say he should, at the least, be monitored'," it continued.
"Zhou has been instrumental in vilifying and persecuting Falun Gong practitioners in China since 1999."
That report led me to email a friend and expert, Professor Dong Li, now a New Zealand academic, who was persecuted during the Cultural Revolution, like Falun Gong practitioners are today.
I asked for his assessment of the Australian government's decision to allow, indeed invite, the head of China's secret and other police arms to come here.
Professor Li replied: "Zhou is undoubtedly the czar of the formidable 800,000-strong Chinese armed police, the well-equipped regular police force, all public procurators' organs, the entire judicial system and China's prison system.
"Zhou is to Communist China today what Heinrich Himmler was to Nazi Germany."
Professor Li added that Zhou had a geological engineering background and held the top party post in China's biggest province of Sichuan, from where he persecuted anyone designated as a dissenter.
"It was this that brought him to the attention of then Communist Party leader, Jiang Zemin," he continued.
"Jiang Zemin consequently commissioned him to carry out the massive nationwide prosecution of the Falun Gong.
"We know that 43 Falun Gong were tortured to death in some of the concentration camps hastily set up to imprison them.
"Zhou came to international attention seven years ago when he was sued by Falun Gong practitioners in a Chicago Court that issued a summons."
The Rudd government, of which Mr Smith is the key foreign relations figure, has thus taken to extending invitations to some quite unsavoury characters.
State Scene can't imagine the immediate pre-war Menzies or Lyons governments inviting Heinrich Himmler or Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, for a visit.
But that's not all - there's still the hush-hush aspect of the Zhou, and later the Li, visits.
Who invited Mr Zhou to Australia?
State Scene contacted Mr Smith's Perth office and was told it was "the Australian government", which presumably means Mr Smith, with Kevin Rudd's high-level concurrence.
A quick log-on into Mr Smith's media releases website showed it carried no reference in November 2008 to Mr Zhou visiting Australia.
Because another report State Scene just happened to see during the media hiatus over the hush-hush Li visit mentioned that Premier Colin Barnett had also met Mr Zhou, so a quick scan of the Barnett media site was made.
And, interestingly, it carries several November press releases referring to Mr Zhou's Perth stopover.
One reads: "Premier Colin Barnett will this morning meet with high-ranking Chinese political official Mr Zhou Yongkang and later co-host a luncheon in Mr Zhou's honour.
"Mr Zhou is a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee of the People's Republic of China.
"Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith will also meet with Mr Zhou this morning before joining Mr Barnett in co-hosting the luncheon.
"Mr Zhou is expected to visit some of Perth's natural attractions this afternoon before leaving Perth for Sydney and Canberra tomorrow."
Another Barnett statement reads: "He [Mr Zhou] will be accompanied by a delegation of 51, including six Chinese media representatives, who are covering the tour.
"Mr Zhou will be welcomed to Australia by Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith, representing the prime minister and Western Australian Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore, representing the premier."
Interestingly, Mr Barnett, if he even knew, never said his Government, and thus WA taxpayers, was putting on a lunch for China's top cop and political persecutor.
Nor did Mr Smith tell the Australian public that his government had invited such a character to visit Australia.
So, the one announcement State Scene could find advising of Mr Zhou's forthcoming visit only referred to him as a "high-ranking Chinese political official Mr Zhou Yongkang" and that he was "a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee of the People's Republic of China."
There was utter silence on the fact that he's China's number one enforcer, so hardly the type of person anyone should be proud of welcoming to Australia.
Why has Mr Smith distanced himself by not mentioning him in his media releases, and why weren't Australians told of Mr Zhou's disgraceful past?
Was it perhaps because Australia's Senate last June had voted unanimously to call for an end to persecution of Falun Gong?
The senate had previously passed two similar motions - in 2003 calling on assisting relatives of Australian practitioners illegally detained in China, and in 2005 on the harassment of practitioners in Australia.
Moreover, Amnesty International's 2008 annual report said Falun Gong practitioners were specially targeted by the regime and 41,500 organs were sold for transplant with unaccounted sources - believed by the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong - to be from murdered practitioners.
Did Mr Smith deserve the Henderson apology?