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China – Australia human rights partnership canned



Andrew Hastie and James Paterson were barred due to their criticism of Beijing. Human rights partnership was suspended.

Human rights partnership was suspended over the mass detention of Uighurs. PM labeled China’s banning of two Australian politicians as “very disappointing”. Andrew Hastie and James Paterson were barred due to their criticism of Beijing.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says the Human Rights Technical Co-operation Program, worth $7.4 million over three years, has been suspended after more than two decades.

The program was set up between DFAT, the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Adding to the strain is China’s decision to block coalition backbenchers Andrew Hastie and James Paterson from visiting the country until they “repent” for criticizing Beijing.

Mr. Hastie has no intention of scaling back his criticism of Chinese attempts to exert influence in Australia and human rights abuses against Uighurs in the country’s western Xinjiang province.

Mr. Hastie sparked a political and diplomatic controversy in August when he compared China’s global ambition to the rise of Nazi Germany.

“Senator James Paterson and I will not repent,” Mr. Hastie said. Former head of Defence and Foreign Affairs, Dennis Richardson, has slammed the ban.

“It highlights the propensity of authoritarian governments to be a bit thin-skinned about criticism,” he said.

“Andrew Hastie, whether you agree with him or not, is a thoughtful person and the Chinese would have found him someone prepared to listen and to learn.”

The decision comes after Liberal MPs Andrew Hastie and James Paterson were barred from entering China.

Mr. Hastie and Mr. Paterson were set to visit Beijing in December, along with their Labor colleague Matt Keogh, as part of a study tour organized by the China policy think tank China Matters.

But on Friday it was revealed the trip would not go ahead.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has issued a statement of support for Australia’s economic partnership with China, as political tensions between Beijing and Canberra come under further strain.

But Mr. Frydenberg says while China has outstripped the United States as Australia’s largest foreign investor, there are clear differences between the two nations that need to be carefully managed.

Meanwhile, Australia has quietly discontinued a human rights program in China after more than two decades.

‘It wasn’t getting the job done,’ Mr. Morrison said.

The prime minister said human rights concerns would be raised with China through a range of other channels.

Asked whether China respected Australia’s democracy, Mr. Morrison said: ‘They respect our sovereignty, I mean, they have a different system to us.’

‘We’re not looking to adopt their system and they’re not looking to adopt ours.’

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