Lib MPs must 'repent and redress': China

Senator James Paterson will continue to speak out about China despite being barred from the country.
Senator James Paterson will continue to speak out about China despite being barred from the country.

China has declared it won't "yield to colonization of ideas and values" and says Liberal MPs Andrew Hastie and Senator James Paterson will need to "repent and redress their mistakes" if they want to visit the country.

The federal MPs were due to travel to Beijing in December with Labor MP Matt Keogh as part of a study tour organised by think tank China Matters.

On Friday they were told their visas had been denied.

Both Mr Hastie and Senator Paterson have been increasingly critical about the Chinese government, speaking out about attempts to exert influence in Australia and human rights abuses against Uighurs in Xinjiang province.

A Chinese Embassy spokesperson on Saturday issued a statement saying the country was open to "constructive dialogue and exchanges with people all around the world".

But it would "not welcome those who make unwarranted attacks, wantonly exert pressure on China, challenge China's sovereignty, disrespect China's dignity and undermine mutual trust between China and Australia".

"The colonial days of Western powers are long gone. China will never yield to colonization of ideas and values," the embassy spokesperson said

The statement indicated the MPs would be able to travel to China if they apologised for their remarks.

"As long as the people concerned genuinely repent and redress their mistakes, view China with objectivity and reason, respect China's system and mode of development chosen by the Chinese people, the door of dialogue and exchanges will always remain open," the spokesperson said.

The duo, however, have indicated they will continue to speak out about the authoritarian regime.

"What I've been saying and what Andrew has been saying is consistent for years," Senator Paterson told the ABC.

"We are concerned about what's going on in Hong Kong, we are concerned about the up to a million Uighurs in China, we're concerned about the treatment of Tibet."

Federal minister Darren Chester said it is not clear why his colleagues have been barred from entering China but says people should be able to state their views

"I think it's important that members of parliament can express their views on a whole range of issues and put their point of view across," he told ABC TV on Saturday.

"Let's just see exactly what has gone on and what the reasons are. I think it's important we don't over-read these situations."

Mr Chester stressed there is a very strong relationship between the two countries through trade, culture and economic links.

Labor frontbencher Linda Burney said it is the responsibility as parliamentarians to be honest and speak about human rights.

"I think that the important thing to understand is that Australia and China have much in common, but there is divergence as well," she said.

"We have a different value system, different political systems, but the importance of China, as a trading partner, in terms of jobs, is incredibly important."

Australian Associated Press