Hostage Diplomacy: Australians Warned of Possible ‘Arbitrary Detention’ in China

Police officers wearing face masks to protect against the spread of new coronavirus stand guard at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Within hours of China lifting an 11-week lockdown on the central city of Wuhan early Wednesday, tens of thousands …
Ng Han Guan/AP Photo

Australia warned intending China travelers on Tuesday to think again, cautioning they may face “arbitrary detention” by the Communist regime if they proceed.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) also said Chinese government authorities have detained foreigners previously because they were “endangering national security.”

The official travel advice for China has not changed, but it now contains the caveat China will not hesitate to arrest foreigners and take them hostage to suit state purposes. It says:

China will not allow most foreigners to enter China.

Direct flights between China and Australia have significantly reduced. If despite our advice you travel to China, you’ll be subject to 14 days mandatory quarantine. Quarantine requirements may change at short notice.

If you’re already in China, and wish to return to Australia, we recommend you do so as soon as possible by commercial means.

Authorities have detained foreigners because they’re ‘endangering national security’. Australians may also be at risk of arbitrary detention.

We haven’t changed our level of advice. Do not travel to China.

The new advice comes as tensions between the two countries continue to simmer in the wake of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s push for a global inquiry into China’s handling of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, as Breitbart News reported.

The call sparked a tit-for-tat with China, with Beijing urging its citizens not to travel to Australia due to what it said was a spike in racism towards Chinese visitors.

Australia’s decision to join the U.S. and ban Huawei from any participation in a national 5G network also remains a “sore point or thorny issue” between the two countries, the Chinese ambassador alleged in February, adding “discrimination against a Chinese company” lies at the core of the dispute.

Last week, Morrison also confirmed the government was “actively considering” offering safe haven to Hong Kongers after controversial national security laws were imposed on the former British colony.

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