China cold on Australian official visits
CHINA has gone cold on Malcolm Turnbull's government over recent anti-China rhetoric, reportedly refusing to grant visas to senior ministers.
Fairfax Media reports China is also planning to abandon a major trade and business showcase in May this year.
It comes after the Prime Minister announced the government would introduce new laws to crack down on foreign interference and espionage late last year.
There have also been several minor flare ups in Australia-China relations this year, including International Development Minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells accusing the Asian superpower of lending funds to Pacific island nations on unfavourable terms and constructing "useless buildings", "white elephants" and "roads to nowhere".
Australian sources have told the publication Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull still plans to attend the Australia Week in China showcase mid-year but no date has yet been set for the event.
Potential participants in China have also reportedly said they do not expect it to proceed.
Senior government ministers are also notably absent from the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan this week, which Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke at on Tuesday.
Fortescue Metals Group chairman Andrew Forrest has previously been able to invite an Australian minister. He refused to confirm or deny to Fairfax Media that FMG had been unable to obtain a visa for an Australian politician this year.
The Australian ambassador to China, Jan Adams, has attended the Boao forum however.
Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie is also understood to have been affected by the freeze.
She had reportedly been invited to attend an AFL showcase match in Shanghai on May 19 but is now not expected to attend.
Australia's top diplomat, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Secretary Frances Adamson, has acknowledged that there are "complex and difficult issues" between Australia and China at the moment.
But she told an estimates hearing at Parliament House in March that it was wrong to suggest China was deliberately putting diplomatic visits on hold.
"We are certainly going through a period where there are some complex and difficult issues but we are working through those," Ms Adamson said.