China has lodged a “solemn representation” with Australia following reports a Chinese student was searched and repatriated after landing in the country, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Tuesday.
China urges Australia to cease such actions, Wang said at a regular news briefing in Beijing.
The remarks came after the China Daily newspaper earlier reported that Australia had recently deported two Chinese students for failing to disclose military training they had undergone at university.
In an article posted on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, the state-run media outlet said the incidents had harmed the “legitimate rights and interests of Chinese students” and caused people to suspect a “political purpose” behind the deportations.
Before the pandemic, Chinese nationals accounted for about one-third of international enrollments at Australian universities.
Australia’s international education sector in 2019 contributed 37.6 billion Australian dollars ($26.7bn) to the economy, supporting about 240,000 jobs.
Relations between China and Australia have deteriorated sharply in recent years amid a raft of disputes related to issues including the COVID-19 pandemic, trade, and alleged foreign interference and espionage.