China has slammed Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision to offer extended visas to residents fleeing Hong Kong warning Australia will “bear all the consequences”.
As expected, the decision to offer up to 10,000 students and skilled workers already in Australia extended five year visas has enraged the communist regime.
The new arrangements echo former Prime Minister Bob Hawke’s decision to offer Chinese students studying in Australia asylum in the wake of the bloody massacre of students in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in June 1989.
But they are not safe haven visas, but an extension of the existing arrangements to give current and future students time to consider their options.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian’s warned overnight that the act of “gross interference” in China’s affairs by Mr Morrison will trigger consequences.
“The attempt to pressure China will never succeed,’’ he warned.
“The Australian side’s comments and measures are in serious violation of international law and the basic norms governing international relations.
“They constitute gross interference in China’s internal affairs, and China doesn’t accept it.
“We express strong condemnation and reserve the right to make further reaction, and Australia should bear all the consequences.
“China urges Australia to immediately change course, stop intervening in Hong Kong affairs and China’s domestic affairs, and prevent further harm to China-Australia relations.”
Asked by the BBC what international norms were being broken, the Foreign Minister replied: “Isn’t ‘noninterference in other countries’ internal affairs’ a basic norm governing international relations? Do I have to elaborate?”
In the lead up to the cabinet decision, the Chinese Government controlled Global Times website warned of massive, unforeseen consequences if the offer to provide visas to Hong Kong residents in Australia went ahead.
“Anyone with knowledge of China-Australia trade could see that political provocations over the Hong Kong issue will only end up being a bitter pill for the country’s economy to swallow. Unfortunately, the Morrison government doesn’t seem to quite understand it,’’ the newspaper stated.
“The subsequent impacts may involve Australia’s tourism, investment, education, and trade sectors, among others, generating immeasurable losses to countless local businesses.”
In the wake of Thursday’s formal announcement of the visa extensions, the newspaper quoted Chinese academics condemning Australia’s decision.
“Time and again, the Liberal-National Coalition government has been provocative in wreaking more damage on the bilateral relationship, which could further deteriorate beyond repair,” said Chen Hong, director of the Australian Studies Center at the East China Normal University in Shanghai.
Mr Morrison and his Government must bear the responsibility for “such outrages” Chen said.
The Prime Minister announced Australia will offer extended visas for residents of Hong Kong to apply for residency in Australia but did not flag safe haven visas.
“The other issue that we are addressing is one that, as a result of changes that have occurred in Hong Kong, that there will be citizens of Hong Kong who may be looking to move elsewhere, to start a new life somewhere else, to take their skills, their businesses and things that they have been running under the previous set of rules and arrangements in Hong Kong, and seek that opportunity elsewhere,’’ Mr Morrison said.
“Australia has always been a very welcoming country to such people from all around the world, and our immigration system is the best in the world. It has the best controls, it has the best targeting, it has the best focus, and immigration as a result has been a pillar of the strength of our nation, not just our economy but our society as well.
“We are a great immigration nation.”
China’s Foreign Minister also commented on threats by China to sue an Australian based think-tank and its researchers for “smearing” China.
“As is widely known … the ASPI have been smearing China by fabricating lies,’’ he said.
“Their rumours on China have already been proven false by facts like a slap in the face. So if the report you mentioned is true, I’m not even surprised. It’s not the first time that Chinese and foreign media reveal those behind Zenz and the ASPI. I’ll not repeat it here.
“Here’s a piece of advice: come back to the right course as soon as possible, because too many vile deeds will inevitably lead to one’s self-destruction.”