Australia and China are major trading partners. Despite this, the two countries have been frequently at odds lately. In particular, human rights violations and political interference from the Chinese have been points of contention.

Tensions may have just reached a new high. The controversy centers on two Australian politicians, both of whom are openly critical of China's government. Both of them have since garnered support from across the political spectrum.

Banned from entering the country unless they 'repent'

Andrew Hastie and James Paterson are both members of the Australian Parliament.

They're both also noted critics of China. And China has apparently taken notice. Both Hastie and Paterson have been banned from entering China. According to The Daily Mail, both politicians were supposed to visit the country in December. They were scheduled to take part in a study tour organized by a Chinese policy think tank.

Hastie received attention in August after writing a critical piece about China that appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald. Paterson has been vocal about matters such as violence in Hong Kong.

The move by China has drawn sharp criticism from several high-profile politicians. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been highly supportive of Hastie and Paterson, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. All three are members of the actually-conservative Liberal Party. But members of other parties have been supportive as well. Among them is Penny Wong. Wong is the leader of the opposition in the Senate and the Labor Party's shadow minister for foreign affairs. Other supporters include Senator Richard Di Natale, leader of the Australian Greens.

A Chinese spokesperson has said Hastie and Paterson would be allowed in if they 'repent and redress their mistakes.' Neither seems likely to do so anytime soon.

Hastie represents a Western Australia constituency, Paterson represents Victoria

The son of a Presbyterian minister, Hastie served in the Australian Army for nearly 15 years. He was deployed several times, including to serve in Operation Enduring Freedom. Shortly after retiring as a captain, Hastie was elected to the House of Representatives from Canning.

It was a by-election following the death of longtime MP Don Randall. Hastie has been re-elected twice and chairs the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.

Paterson is a former special adviser to Senator Mitch Fifield. Fifield held several high-level posts under Prime Ministers Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Morrison. Paterson was also an intern for Republican U.S. Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart of Florida. He was appointed to the Australian Senate in 2016 after the resignation of Michael Ronaldson.

Ronaldson had also held ministerial posts under Abbott and Turnbull. Paterson won the seat in his own right in 2019.

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