China stops Australian academic from flying home

Indo Asian News Service

Beijing , March 26 (IANS) China has prevented an academic critical of its growing influence in Australia from travelling home to Sydney, casting a shadow over Chinese Premier Li Keqiangs state visit to the country.

Feng Chongyi, a Chinese citizen who teaches at the University of Technology Sydney, was halted from boarding at least two flights from China to Australia this weekend, Financial Times reported.

Feng is a permanent resident of Australia, which means he does not hold an Australian passport.

By blocking his return, Chinese authorities have kept him out of Australia during Li's visit, which has provoked a debate over the political cost to Australia of its tight economic ties with China, its largest export market, the newspaper said.

During the visit, Li warned his hosts against siding with the US to the detriment of China's interests.

At the same time as Feng was being prevented from returning to Sydney on Saturday, Li was attending an Australian rules football match with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Australia's Justice Minister Michael Keenan said on Sunday the government had been in touch with Feng's family and had raised the case with the Chinese government.

"We'll continue to monitor the situation and remain in contact with Chinese authorities about it," Keenan told reporters in Perth.