Published On: Mon, Nov 18th, 2019

Australian Politicians Banned From China ‘Will Not Repent’ For Criticism

Two Australian politicians refused entry to China have said they will not retract their criticisms of the country.

Andrew Hastie

Andrew Hastie and James Paterson, both members of the government, were due to go on a study tour in China next month.

But their visa applications were rejected, and the Chinese embassy said they could only visit if they were to “genuinely repent” for their comments.

Both Mr Hastie and Mr Paterson dismissed the demand.

There is an ongoing debate about Chinese influence in Australia, with some politicians accusing Beijing of trying to infiltrate Australian politics through donations. Others, however, believe the allegations are fuelling xenophobia and harming relations between the two countries.

In a statement after Mr Hastie’s and Mr Paterson’s visas were refused, a Chinese embassy spokesperson said that they “do not welcome those who make unwarranted attacks” on the country.

Mr Paterson added: “There won’t be any repenting. I’m elected to represent the Australian people — their values, their concerns, their interests. I won’t be repenting on the instruction of any foreign power.

What did they say about China?

Mr Hastie, MP for Canning in West Australia and head of a parliamentary security committee, wrote an opinion piece in August that was published in Sydney Morning Herald.

In that, he compared the West’s approach to China to what he called the “catastrophic” failure to hold back Nazi Germany.

“Like the French, Australia has failed to see how mobile our authoritarian neighbour has become,” he wrote.

Shortly after the article was published, the Chinese embassy in Australia said the piece betrayed his “Cold War mentality and ideological bias”.

Mr Paterson has also criticised the Chinese state, and has raised concerns about violence in Hong Kong.

What is Australia saying officially?

The government has criticised China for its human rights record on several occasions this year. In particular, lawmakers have raised the alleged mass detentions of the Uighur community in Xinjiang.

On Sunday, Foreign Minister Marise Payne raised “strong concerns” about a New York Times report which said it had obtained leaked Chinese documents detailing a crackdown on Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang.

“We have consistently called for China to cease the arbitrary detention of Uighurs and other groups,” Ms Payne said in a statement.

Diplomatic ties between the two nations have come under strain in recent years. On Monday, The Australian newspaper reported that a human rights co-operation programme had been suspended in August.