‘Nothing to say sorry for’

‘Nothing to say sorry for’

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Federal Member for Canning Andrew Hastie.

As a consequence of Federal Member for Canning Andrew Hastie and Senator James Paterson being banned from China, a study tour to Beijing was entirely cancelled on November 15.

Mr Hastie and Mr Paterson have been known for being high profile China critics on a number of articles in the media resulting in their visa being denied.

The goal of these tours is to facilitate free-flowing, off-the record and informal discussions with citizens of the People’s Republic of China about a diverse range of topics.

Organisation China Matters informed both politicians that their visas were not granted and announced that the planned study tour from December 9 to 11 had been postponed.

Mr Hastie said they both had looked forward to learning from the Chinese people.

“We are particularly disappointed that the apparent reason why we are not welcome in China at this time is our frankness about the Chinese Communist Party,” he said.

“We look forward to a time when the Chinese government realises it has nothing to fear from honest discussion and the free exchange of ideas.”

The Chinese embassy also called on both politicians to repent but Mr Hastie said that as elected members they were there to represent the values, interests and concerns of the Australian people.

“We have nothing to apologise for, we believe there is nothing to fear from dialogue, especially with those with whom we might disagree,” he said.

Federal Member for Burt Matt Keogh was also invited to the study tour and said Australia’s relationship with China is now in a new phase and is getting much more complex.

“The cancellation of this trip is truly disappointing,” he said.

“We must deal with China in a bipartisan way, that supports our large trade relationship with them, while always standing up for our values, including human rights, our sovereignty and our democratic system.”