Want to visit China? Beijing tells outspoken Aussie MPs to repent

Mr Andrew Hastie (left) and Mr James Paterson were to visit China next month for a study tour, but were barred because of their "frankness about the Chinese Communist Party".
Mr Andrew Hastie (left) and Mr James Paterson were to visit China next month for a study tour, but were barred because of their "frankness about the Chinese Communist Party".

MELBOURNE • Two Australian lawmakers who were denied entry to China for a study tour because of their outspoken criticism of Beijing must "repent and redress their mistakes" if they want to visit the country, China's embassy in Canberra said.

Mr Andrew Hastie and Mr James Paterson were to visit China next month on a trip organised by the China Matters think-tank, but they said they had been barred because of their "frankness about the Chinese Communist Party".

The two conservative Members of Parliament have been critical of the Chinese regime, its attempts to exert influence in Australia and Beijing's handling of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

In August, China condemned Mr Hastie for an opinion piece in Australian newspapers in which he warned about China's influence, comparing Beijing's rise to the threat from Nazi Germany.

Mr Hastie is not a minister but is an influential member of Australia's ruling Liberal-National coalition, and is the chair of Parliament's intelligence and security committee, which is privy to classified information.

On Saturday, the Chinese embassy in Canberra issued a statement saying Beijing will remain open to dialogue as long as "the people concerned genuinely repent and redress their mistakes".

"The Chinese people do not welcome those who make unwarranted attacks, wantonly exert pressure on China, challenge China's sovereignty, disrespect China's dignity and undermine mutual trust between China and Australia," a spokesman said.

"China will never yield to colonisation of ideas and values."

 

Mr Hastie said no apologies will be coming. "Let me be very clear, we will not repent for standing up for Australian sovereignty, our values, our interests, and for those who cannot speak for themselves," he said in televised remarks.

Australia's overall ties with China, its most important trading partner, have deteriorated in recent years amid accusations that China is meddling in its domestic affairs. Canberra also fears China is seeking undue influence in the Pacific region.

China Matters, an Australia-based think-tank which describes itself as working to advance "sound" China policy, said the goal of the study tours organised for politicians and business executives is to "facilitate informal discussion with citizens of the People's Republic of China".

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2019, with the headline 'Want to visit China? Beijing tells outspoken Aussie MPs to repent'. Print Edition | Subscribe