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Australia admits tensions with China but denies 'deep chill'

AFP  |  Sydney 

Australia's admitted today bubbling tensions with over allegations of meddling in domestic politics, but denied there was a "deep chill" in relations after reports ministers were being refused visas.

Bilateral ties took a dive late last year when announced wide-ranging reforms to espionage and foreign interference legislation, singling out as a focus of concern.

It sparked a furious response from Beijing, which summoned Australia's and attacked about infiltration, describing them as fabrications based on and

The ice has yet to thaw, with another spat in January prompting to lodge a formal diplomatic protest after a senior Australian called Chinese infrastructure projects in the Pacific "white elephants".

said today China's leadership was so incensed by Canberra's rhetoric that it was regularly refusing visas to ministers and a major annual showcase of Australian trade and business in looked certain to be abandoned this year.

The newspaper characterised it as a deep chill with the country's top trading partner, but was keen to play the story down. "There has certainly has been a degree of tension in the relationship that has arisen because of criticism in China about our foreign interference laws," he told the radio station 3AW in

"All I would say is there has clearly been some misunderstandings and mischaracterisations of our foreign interference legislation in the Chinese media." He added that while his government had "a very strong and respectful relationship" with China, "we do everything we can to ensure any foreign interference in our is open and declared".

Reforms to espionage and foreign interference laws were proposed after Australia's spy agency raised concerns that China was interfering in local institutions and using the political donations system to gain access.

The frosty relations were highlighted by not sending a minister to the recent Boao Forum - dubbed the Asian - which Chinese attended and where usually has high-level representation.

noted that had not visited China for more than two years and Turnbull was last on the Chinese mainland to attend the summit in September 2016.

When pressed on whether ministers had been declined visas to visit China, Turnbull replied: "I wouldn't go that far", while declining to give a yes or no answer.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, April 12 2018. 11:00 IST