Rejecting a warning by the Australian government that their residents could face "arbitrary detention" if they go to China, Chinese observers said that the warning is clearly a defaming tactic aimed at slandering China's judicial system and stoking up antipathy towards China among the Australian public, which could further damage the fragile bilateral relationship.
Australians pose with signs saying Australia welcomes you.
Photo: screenshot of official website of Australia China Business Council
Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Tuesday afternoon at a press conference that foreigners in China have no need to worry as long as they obey the law, and their legitimate rights and interests are guaranteed in accordance with law.
Zhao urged Australia to maintain an objective and fair attitude, be discreet in its words and deeds and do more things that are conducive to the development of bilateral relations.
Zhao's comment came after the Australian government on Tuesday issued a new travel warning against China, saying that Australians could face "arbitrary detention" if they go to the Chinese mainland.
Chen Hong, director of the Australian Studies Center at the East China Normal University in Shanghai, told the Global Times on Wednesday that given the fact that Australia and China have not opened borders to each other due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and there are few people travelling between the two countries, the travel warning is clearly a defaming tactic aimed at slandering China's judicial system with the purpose of stoking up more antipathy towards China among the Australian public.
The warning is another ill-intentioned smear campaign following a recent outbreak of anti-China hysteria by the Morrison government, which has spared no effort to poison and damage the fragile bilateral relationship, Chen noted.
An Australian who gave his name as Jack, who has lived in China for almost six years, told the Global Times on Wednesday that he has never had any issues with the authorities, let alone so-called arbitrary detention. "If anything, they [Chinese local authorities] have assisted me throughout the COVID-19 period. So I have to thank them," Jack said.
"I believe that only people who have something to hide, or have broken laws in China should be concerned about detention," Jack said.
"I can understand the concerns from the Australian government about its citizens' safety due to previous detentions of its own nationals, and also the cases regarding the two Canadians. But such people have obviously broken laws in China and this goes for any nation in the world, either liberal democratic in nature or not," he said.
He said that much of the mistrust of China in academic, media and policy circles in Australia is a misjudgment on their part.
"Australia's and China's legal systems differ significantly and that can cause anxiety from the Australian side, especially from policymakers and analysts who have little first-hand experience dealing with or living in China," Jack said.
The China-Australia relationship is currently at its lowest point in the past two decades.
Australian media outlet Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported on Tuesday that Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Chinese government authorities have detained foreigners because they were allegedly "endangering national security".
The department has already advised travelers not to travel to China — or anywhere overseas — because of the coronavirus pandemic.
China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued a travel alert on June 5, warning people not to travel to Australia, as the country has seen a significant rising trend of racial discrimination and violence against Chinese and other Asian people due to the pandemic.
China's Ministry of Education issued an alert on June 9 to Chinese students who are about to study, or prepare to return to Australia for their studies.
Source: Global Times