China cancels Australian lawmakers' trip as tensions deepen

China has cancelled a visit by Australian lawmakers to meet law enforcement officials in what some say is punishment for Australian interference in Chinese internal affairs at a period of deepening diplomatic tensions.

Craig Kelly, chairman of the parliamentary committee, said Thursday he had not been given details of why he could not lead his three committee colleagues on a trip that was to have started Wednesday.

Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported the weeklong trip was cancelled because Beijing was offended by Australia joining another 10 countries in signing a letter that questions China's treatment of human rights lawyers.

Damien Kingsbury, a Deakin University expert on international politics, described the cancellation as a "fairly blunt message" and agreed that the human rights letter was the most likely trigger.