News National Chinese ambassador won’t rule Scott Morrison invitation to Beijing

Chinese ambassador won’t rule Scott Morrison invitation to Beijing

Scott Morrison china
Ambassador Cheng Jingye warned that Australia would be punished if Beijing's wishes are ignored. Photo: AAP
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China’s ambassador to Australia has not ruled out Prime Minister Scott Morrison being invited to Beijing.

Cheng Jingye has promised to “do more” to ease the strained relationship between Australia and China.

“There are efforts between the two sides, there will be more high-level exchanges and visits,” Mr Cheng told reporters at his official residence in Canberra on Thursday.

“As ambassador, of course, I will do what I can … to promote these relations, these important relations,” he said.

There have been various points of tension between Australia and China over the past 12 months.

Chinese-Australian writer Yang Hengjun has been detained without charge in Beijing for the entire year and two Australian politicians have been banned from entering China.

Australia has also been a vocal critic of China’s mass detention of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities.

The United Nations says there are credible reports at least one million Uighur Muslims are being held in camps in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang.

Mr Cheng insisted this was “utterly fake news” but despite repeated questioning wouldn’t say how many people were being detained in camps.

The ambassador went on to show reporters a Chinese government video titled “Fighting Terrorism”, showing a mash of clips purporting to show attacks in China by Uighurs.

Despite international condemnation and pressure, the Chinese government maintains the camps are for “re-education”, where Uighurs are studying and being trained.

“What has been done there is nothing to do with human rights, nothing to do with religion,” Mr Cheng said.

“It’s about fighting terrorism and taking preventing actions.”

The ambassador acknowledged it could have been a better year for relations with Australia.

“We expect that this relationship will be back to normal with the efforts of both sides,” he said.