Beijing [China], March 2 (ANI): China has condemned Australia for granting protection visas to Hong Kong passport holders in December and asked Canberra to abandon its interference in Hong Kong's affairs.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin on Monday said China's position on Hong Kong-related issues is consistent and clear. "Hong Kong affairs fall entirely within China's internal affairs. No foreign country has the right to interfere," Chinese state media Global Times quoted Wang as saying.
"China urges Australia to stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs in any way, to avoid further damage to China-Australia relations," Wang said.
A report from Australia's Department of Home Affairs on the processing of Subclass 866 onshore protection visas indicated that fewer than five Hong Kong passport holders had their applications approved in December.
The allocation marked the first time that such visas were granted to passport holders from the region since at least 2010, Australian media outlet SBS reported on Monday.
Sino-Australian relations have been in a downward spiral since April last year, when Canberra infuriated Beijing by proposing an independent international inquiry into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Canberra has been locked in an ongoing trade war with Beijing for several months, which has seen China slap sanctions on various Australian products.
Beijing has slapped several restrictions amounting to billions of dollars of Australian exports, including beef, barley and wine, citing dumping and other trade violations that analysts widely view as pretexts to inflict economic retaliation.
China has unofficially banned Australian imports of coal, sugar, barley, lobsters, wine, copper and log timber since the start of November. It has also imposed anti-dumping duties on barley earlier this year. (ANI)