China rages after students turned away from Sydney airport: 'Stop it'

Beijing has reacted angrily to reports Chinese students have been turned away at Australian airports under the guise of national security.

Chinese state media publication China Daily on Monday accused Australia of having a potential political motive behind the rejections amid a torrid period for Sino-Australian relations, citing unnamed sources.

China Daily detailed the case of a student who was allegedly interrogated at Sydney airport, with their mobile phone and luggage searched.

Their visa was then cancelled after failing to declare a routine military training course at university which was depicted in a series of photos on the individual's phone.

China says several Chinese students have been turned away at Australian airports. Pictured are two unrelated students at Sydney Airport in 2020. Source: AAP
China says several Chinese students have been turned away at Australian airports. Pictured are two unrelated students at Sydney Airport in 2020. Source: AAP

"The Foreign Ministry and the Chinese embassy in Australia have lodged serious concerns over the country's recent repatriation of Chinese students," the publication stated as per its sources.

During Tuesday's foreign ministry daily press conference, spokesperson Wang Wenbin said there had been several incidences of students being knocked back at the border.

"Such acts have gravely undermined the legitimate and lawful rights and interests of Chinese students," he said.

"We urge the Australian side to stop such practice that does no good to others or itself, and create a sound atmosphere and necessary conditions for the bilateral cultural and educational exchanges and cooperation," he said.

Australia defends visa position

While Australian Border Force (ABF) does not comment on specific visa cases, it has stood by its visa decisions.

"We are committed to facilitating the entry of legitimate visa holders into Australia, but will not hesitate to use the powers we have to protect Australia's national interests when required," it said in a statement to Yahoo News Australia.

"The travelling public should be aware that the Australian Border Force can and does cancel visas at the border if a traveller has provided false information."

Wang Wenbin called on Australia to stop hampering a
Wang Wenbin called on Australia to stop hampering a "mutually beneficial" arrangement in terms of students. Source: FMPRC

It's not the first time Mr Wang has criticised Australia over the treatment of Chinese students.

Last year he said he was "deeply concerned" over the treatment of Chinese nationals in Australia, suggesting the country had a problem with racism fuelled by anti-Sino views that had surged due to the emergence of Covid-19 in China.

In 2020, amid a decline in relations between Australia and China, Beijing's education ministry warned students not to travel to Australia due to a spike in racist attacks. Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the time dismissed the claim as "rubbish".

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