Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has been criticized for double standards for ignoring China’s detention of an Australian mother of two while on his way to Beijing.
Andrews traveled on his seventh visit to China on Monday night – the first by an Australian prime minister since 2019 – for a series of meetings with Chinese officials.
But Dr Nick Coatsworth blasted the Labor leader for ignoring the plight of her Melbourne mother Cheng Li, who was kidnapped by the Chinese two and a half years ago.
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews (pictured) has been criticized for double standards for ignoring China’s detention of an Australian mother of two while he was traveling to Beijing.
Dr Nick Coatsworth (pictured) has criticized the Labor leader for ignoring the plight of his Melbourne mother Cheng Li, who was kidnapped by the Chinese
Her partner, Nick Quayle, begged the prime minister to raise her case with the Chinese authorities during his groundbreaking trip.
But Mr Andrews insisted the issue was “very sensitive” and said it was a matter for the federal government’s Department of Foreign Affairs, not the state government.
Dr Coatsworth, Australia’s former deputy health officer, criticized the decision in a scathing post on Twitter.
“It is strange that when it comes to the rights of a Victorian imprisoned in China, with children in Victoria, this is not Dan’s case, it is foreign affairs,” he wrote on Tuesday evening.
But when it comes to the Belt and Road and other strategic partnerships with a major foreign power, he is happy on his own. curious.’
Mr Andrews’ trip is the first by an Australian politician since the revelation of the AUKUS nuclear submarine deal in 2021 which sparked an angry response from China.
Cheng Li, who moved to Melbourne with her family when she was a child, has been imprisoned in China for more than two years
The prime minister banned the local press from joining the trip, prompting further outrage over the lack of scrutiny, as the visit has now only been reported by China’s state-run media.
He insisted that the trip would be a series of back-to-back meetings with officials in Beijing, Jiangsu and Sichuan and would not be “photo-friendly”.
Andrews said the purpose of the trip is to encourage more Chinese students to return to Victorian universities in the wake of the lifting of Covid restrictions.
Ms Lee’s partner pleaded with the prime minister to raise the issue of her detention during the flight and to work to reunite her with her daughter, 13, and son, 11, in Melbourne.
The former on-screen anchor of Chinese station CGTN has been detained by authorities after he was accused of “illegally providing state secrets abroad”, but exact details have not been revealed.
“Lee calls Melbourne home,” said Mr Coyle.
“Supporting two Victorian children by making representations to officials in China for regular contact with their mother, I think, would be entirely appropriate for the Prime Minister.”
The prime minister refused to intervene before his trip, insisting it was a matter of the federal government and that he was focusing on economic ties with China through education.
“There are a number of detainees,” he said before leaving.
I just want to make it clear, this is not going to be something I’m going to bring up because they are very sensitive matters.
They are best dealt with by the Australian Foreign Service.
“Some things are quite appropriate to raise. Other things, you have to be very careful when you are the leader of a country without a sovereign.
Ms Lee faced a secret trial a year ago – which Australian diplomats were barred from attending because it involved state secrets – but her verdict and any verdict have not been made public.
Her family says the current situation is “very difficult” and they desperately need the government to find a solution that will allow her to return home with her children.
“Everyone is putting up as much as possible under the circumstances,” Coyle told ABC.
Fortunately, consular visits can now be done in person instead of via video link, which is good, but the constant uncertainty is sad.
“I think it is very important that her case and the plight of her children be brought up as systematically as possible to as many senior officials in China as possible.”