China complains to Australia over repatriation of Chinese students

BEIJING, March 29 (Reuters) - China protested to Australia for turning back Chinese students who had flown in to Sydney for not disclosing they had undergone mandatory military training at Chinese universities.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a news briefing on Tuesday that several Chinese students recently had their visas revoked and were repatriated when they tried to enter Australia through Sydney.

Australian border officials, who presumed that mandatory military training organised by Chinese universities was equivalent to actual military training, repatriated the students for failing to disclose this history, Wang said.

It is compulsory for students at Chinese universities to go through a short stint of military training at the start of their first year, typicallly from seven to 24 days, aimed at instilling in them a sense of patriotism and collectivism.

"The Australian behaviour goes against the nature of people-to-people interaction and win-win cooperation," Wang said.

An Australian Border Force spokesperson said the government body did not comment on individual cases but that it "can and does cancel visas at the border if a traveller has provided false information".

"We are committed to facilitating the entry of legitimate visa holders into Australia, but will not hesitate to use the powers we have to protect Australia’s national interests when required," the spokesman added.

Reporting by Yew Lun Tian, additional reporting by Byron Kaye in Sydney; Editing by Alex Richardson and Bernadette Baum

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