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Premier Dan Andrews’ team in Victoria responded to allegations that the PM could be manipulated by China

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Dan Andrews’ team has responded to allegations that the prime minister could be manipulated during his first visit to China since the Covid-19 outbreak

  • Victorian Premier Dan Andrews is in China to visit officials
  • His government denied that he was at risk of Chinese influence

The Victorian government denies that the Chinese government could manipulate the prime minister during his first visit to the country since the COVID-19 outbreak.

Daniel Andrews arrived in Beijing on Tuesday to kick off a five-day visit to meet with senior officials on trade issues and international students.

According to the government-distributed itinerary, Andrews met with the vice president of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries on Tuesday.

The league was criticized in 2020 by former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who accused it of ‘co-opting subnational governments’ in order to ‘directly and maliciously influence state and local leaders’.

Chinese media this week aired old footage of Andrews saying there was a need for respectful dialogue between China and Australia.

The Victorian government denies that Prime Minister Daniel Andrews (pictured in Tiananmen Square in 2015) could be manipulated by the Chinese government during his five-day visit to the country.

Clips from 2017 were used in a video news story to promote the prime minister’s visit.

But Victorian Assistant Chancellor of the Exchequer Danny Pearson denied that Andrews was at risk of Chinese influence or interference.

“I don’t think anyone has ever manipulated the prime minister,” Pearson told reporters on Wednesday.

“The prime minister is his own man and the idea that he’s some kind of Manchurian candidate is laughable.”

Pearson acknowledged he was not familiar with the CFA, but said he was confident the prime minister was focusing on matters of trade and education.

“It is completely appropriate and it is very important that we build on those ties and economic links and develop these relations further,” he said.

The assistant treasurer also denied there was a lack of transparency about the prime minister’s trip, although members of the media were not invited to attend.

Pearson said Victorian ministers were confronting reporters and the prime minister would answer questions when he returns to Melbourne on Saturday.

But shadow chancellor Brad Roswell said he was deeply concerned about the secrecy surrounding the prime minister’s trip.

He says he works for the Victorians. Well, show it to Victorians,” Mr Roswell told reporters on Wednesday.

– Take a press bag with you. Be open. Let the sun shine and be transparent in your dealings.

: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets with Daniel Andrews in Melbourne in 2017

: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets with Daniel Andrews in Melbourne in 2017

Danny Pearson (pictured left with Bill Shorten) denied that Andrews was in danger of Chinese influence or interference

Danny Pearson (pictured left with Bill Shorten) denied that Andrews was in danger of Chinese influence or interference

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance also said the correspondents should have been part of the China trip, particularly given the expulsion of Australian foreign correspondents from the country.

“Australia’s relationship with China is sensitive at the moment, and you think that actually means there is more scrutiny, not less,” Karen Pearcy, the federal media chief in the Middle East for the Environment, told AAP.

“He should have invited a journalist with him in the true spirit of freedom of the press.”

Before leaving for China, Andrews told reporters that a media unit had not been considered because there would not be any events to film or film.

But Ms Percy said journalists were not there to take pictures.

Our role is not to allow the propaganda of any government to go untested. Because governments are trying to put forward their own point of view, and it is up to journalists to test that.

Andrews will also visit Jiangsu and Sichuan provinces before returning to Melbourne on Saturday morning.

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