A group of politicians from around the world has accused China of ‘bullying’ and ‘intimidating’ Australia as tensions between the two nations escalate.
The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, made up of legislators from the European Union, UK, US, Canada, and several other nations have accused Beijing of using ‘coercive diplomacy’ to ‘gain diplomatic advantage’.
The group released a statement after two Australian journalists based in China flew home on Tuesday, fearing for their safety after they were linked to national security case.
The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China includes 13 Australian politicians, including prominent China critics Liberal MP Andrew Hastie (pictured with his father when he joined the SAS) and Labor Senator Kimberly Kitching
Chinese President Xi Jinping poses with health experts and generals on Tuesday
‘The PRC’s latest decision to force out the last two remaining accredited Australian media journalists shows the extent to which they are willing to bully countries who challenge them,’ the statement read.
China-Australia relations have deteriorated since Scott Morrison backed calls for an independent inquiry into coronavirus in March.
Beijing banned Australian barley and beef imports and advised students and tourists not to go Down Under in apparent retaliation.
The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China said the communist superpower, home to 1.3billion people, was using ‘trade bans, popular boycotts, visa restrictions and arbitrary detention of foreign nationals’ to further its strategic interests.
‘In recent weeks China has implemented unwarranted trade sanctions against a number of Australian agricultural exports,’ the statement read.
‘This is just the latest instance in a disturbing pattern of behaviour whereby the PRC uses its economic influence to pressure other states into acquiescing to their demands.’
The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, made up of legislators from the European Union, UK, US, Canada, and several other nations have accused Beijing of using ‘coercive diplomacy’ to ‘gain diplomatic advantage’
The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China includes 13 Australian politicians, including prominent China critics Liberal MP Andrew Hastie and Labor Senator Kimberly Kitching.
The group aims to ‘promote a coordinated response among democratic states to challenges posed by the present conduct and future ambitions of the People’s Republic of China.’
The ABC’s Bill Birtles and Michael Smith from the Australian Financial Review were rushed out of China for their own safety this week, after being banned from leaving until they answered questions about Australian TV anchor Cheng Lei who has been detained.
Chinese police told the men they were people of interest in the case and both journalists were ordered to report for questioning.
They sheltered in Australian diplomatic compounds for days as their travel rights were revoked.
Consular officials secured safe passage after the pair agreed to be interviewed.
Soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army march outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing
Both journalists say they are relieved to be home but disappointed about the circumstances surrounding their departure.
Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has no doubt the expulsion of two Australian reporters from China is a direct response to ASIO raids on Chinese journalists.
Beijing has accused Australian security agencies of ‘blatant irrational acts’ over raids on four Chinese journalists’ homes in June.
Two Chinese scholars had their visa revoked as part of the crack down on alleged foreign interference.
Beijing appeared to retaliate this week by effectively expelling the final two Australian correspondents working on the ground in China.
Ms Cheng has been detained in Beijing for almost a month, accused of endangering national security.
Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is confident the connection is clear.
‘What (China) appear to be admitting is that they’ve kicked out two of our journalists because ASIO investigated two of theirs who left, right? So it’s tit for tat,’ he told ABC radio on Thursday.
‘The relationship with China is of vital importance but we have to be able to defend our sovereignty.
‘And if a foreign government or political party is seeking covertly or corruptly or coercively to meddle in our affairs, then we have to call that out.’
Mr Turnbull, who enraged Beijing by introducing foreign interference laws in 2017, said China meddled in other countries’ affairs on a bigger and more industrial scale than any other nation.
‘They have very elaborate foreign influence operations,’ he said.
‘We don’t have a problem with somebody here representing an agency of the Chinese Communist Party, as long as they are up front about it.’
epa08657843 A supplied image shows Bill Birtles from the ABC (R) and Michael Smith from the Australian Financial Review (L) after landing in Sydney