Chinese Regime Bans Two Australian Scholars, State Media Reports

September 24, 2020 Updated: September 24, 2020

BEIJING/SYDNEY—China has barred entry to two Australian scholars amid heightened tension between Beijing and Canberra, the state-run Global Times newspaper said on Sept. 24, citing unidentified sources.

The decision to bar the “anti-China” Clive Hamilton and Alex Joske came after Australia revoked the visas of two Chinese scholars over “alleged infiltration” in early September, according to the paper, which is published by the Chinese Communist Party’s official mouthpiece People’s Daily.

While China‘s foreign ministry didn’t confirm the bans, officials said during a regular briefing on Sept. 24 that the regime has the right to bar any foreign national, and blamed Australia for difficulties in relations.

Ties have become strained over issues that range from trade disputes to Australia’s call for an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus that first emerged in China last year, and by accusations of Chinese meddling in domestic affairs.

“This ban is quite unexpected, although I have been on Beijing’s enemy list for some years,” Hamilton said in an email to Reuters.

He added that he and Joske were banned as “retaliation” for the Australian government’s actions against Chinese scholars; he said he’d had already decided “two or three years ago” it would be too dangerous to travel to China.

“Only when Beijing decides to stop interfering in Australian politics and attempting to bully the Australian government will relations improve. I hope that happens soon,” he said.

In a 2018 book, Hamilton, a professor of public ethics at Australia’s Charles Sturt University, accused the Chinese Communist Party of a campaign to exert influence in Australia’s domestic politics.

Joske is an analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which the Global Times said is “infamous for churning out anti-China propaganda and fabricating anti-China issues.”

He said on Twitter that the ban is the “latest in a series of attempts by the Chinese Communist Party to punish those who shine a light on its activities” and that he’d also judged the risk of traveling to China to be “too high.”

“I have not held or applied for a Chinese visa for years,” Joske said.

By Cate Cadell Se & Young Lee