Thursday, 04 March, 2021


Australian journalist's arrest in Beijing heightens tension

Business people standing with luggage in queue at airport arrival area Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne says Federal Government informed of Australian citizen detained in China
Hannah Rogers | 01 September, 2020, 21:51

She grew up in Australia, the daughter of Chinese migrants, and after working in business in Australia and China, Cheng became a journalist, she said in an interview previous year for the Australia China Business Council.

An Australian journalist has been detained in Beijing in relation to a "highly sensitive case".

After her detention, Ms Cheng's profile on CGTN's website was removed along with several of her articles.

"It is very hard to see where the sensitivity is and where she may have overstepped any red lines around political sensitivities in China".

In a statement Monday, Foreign Minister Maris Payne said Chinese investigators detained the journalist in mid-August.

Cheng is the second high-profile Australian citizen to be detained in Beijing after writer Yang Hengjun was arrested in January 2019 on suspicion of espionage.

Born in China, she studied commerce at the University of Queensland before working for Cadbury Schweppes and ExxonMobil in Australia.

In Cheng Lei's last WeChat post before she disappeared, the Chinese state TV host posed in a bright green dress on a Shake Shack-branded rickshaw outside the newly opened Beijing branch of the American restaurant chain. Asked on Monday about the detention, Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China's foreign ministry, told reporters she was unable to give any specifics, adding that China would handle things according to the law.

The report stated that in July this year, the Australian Government updated its information for Australians travelling to China, warning they could be at increased risk of arbitrary detention. "As a family, we are aware of the current situation with regard to Cheng Lei's status as advised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade", the family said in a statement.

In a declaration, Cheng's household stated they were in "close consultation" with the Australian federal government.

"It is a very powerful message that's being sent", Raby said in a Bloomberg Television interview on Tuesday.

They highlight the regime's resort to RSDL, which vitiates the ordinary protections prescribed in the PRC's Criminal Procedure Law for up to six months by authorizing the incommunicado detention that has so often fostered torture and coerced confessions.

In 2018, Australia's centre-right government banned Chinese firm Huawei from tendering for its 5G network amid security concerns.

ASPI called for "a coordinated and sustained worldwide effort by foreign governments and companies" to counter coercive diplomacy and uphold global stability.

The origins of the coronavirus are now the subject of a WHO-led investigation which China agreed to after Australia led calls for a probe to take place.

Canberra was informed about the detention on August 14, Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne has confirmed.

"I would not describe it in that way", said Marise Payne.

Beijing has said it was angered by the move, and has since blocked Australian beef imports, placed dumping tariffs on Australian barley, and launched an anti-dumping investigation into Australian wine.

"It's naive to think there is not some aspect of the bilateral relationship washing into this", he said.

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