PM ‘disappointed’ over visa refusal for China visit

18 Nov PM ‘disappointed’ over visa refusal for China visit

Olivia Caisley – The Australian – Monday 18 November

Scott Morrison says he is “very ­disappointed” China denied visas to Coalition backbenchers Andrew Hastie and James Paterson amid signs diplomatic tensions between the Morrison government and the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party are continuing to escalate.

“I think this is disappointing and it’s for others to explain as to why they took the view that they did,” the Prime Minister told Adelaide’s FiveAA radio on Monday. “We’re an open democracy, we speak our minds as individuals. Certainly James and Andrew have always been known for that, and we’ll always be who we are.”

Senator Paterson told the ABC on Monday he had no intention of scaling back criticism of China’s attempts to exert influence in Australia, or its various human rights abuses, including the mass detention of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities.

“I’m not really the repenting type — I’m agnostic — but even if I was, I wouldn’t be following the commands of foreign powers to repent on my political views,” Senator Paterson told ABC radio on Monday.

“Even if I wanted to change my views and soften them, I feel like it’s impossible for me to do so now that I’ve been issued such a demand from the Chinese embassy.”

Mr Morrison said Senator Paterson’s and Mr Hastie’s response to the ban was “spot-on”.

Anthony Albanese also moved to back the banned politicians, declaring there were “genuine and legitimate” concerns about human rights abuses in China.

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