Thursday, 04 March, 2021


Chinese-born Australian CCTV Journalist Detained in China

Ms Cheng Lei is a journalist and television anchor working for the Chinese Government's English news channel Australian government says it was not told why Australian journalist detained in China By
Hannah Rogers | 02 September, 2020, 01:43

Ties began to sour between Australia and China - its biggest trading partner - more than two years ago when Australian authorities began to move against what was seen as China's growing political interference and influence peddling in the country.

Diplomats were allowed to speak with Cheng on August 27 via a video link to a detention center in the country.

In a statement, her family said they are in "close consultation" with the Australian government and are doing everything possible to support Cheng during the hard times.

Cheng was a business anchor on CGTN, the global arm of China's state-owned broadcaster CCTV, which has since scrubbed all reference to her from its website and social media.

According to Chinese law Ms Cheng can be held for up to six months for questioning - even if she is not charged - and could be denied access to a lawyer or family and friends for the duration.

Cheng Lei has been held since at least August 14 without charge and with no reason being given for her detention.

Richard McGregor, a senior fellow at the Lowy Institute in Sydney who studies Chinese politics and foreign policy, said it was unclear whether Ms. Cheng's nationality was a factor in her detention. Last week, a top Chinese diplomat in Australia said China felt unfairly "singled out" by Australia and that Morrison's government was teaming up with the U.S. to attack Beijing.

"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.

It is a form of detention in which investigators can imprison and question a suspect for up to six months without a formal arrest.

'In China, due process will be observed and we look forward to a satisfactory and timely conclusion to the matter.

"She is known to be a really great bridge between China and Australia", Dr Lin said.

Earlier in August, China launched an anti-dumping investigation into Australian wine exports - essentially accusing Australia of flooding China with cheap wine in an effort to skew the market.

Cheng Lei has been detained in China, according to DFAT.

It has imposed new restrictions on Australian businesses, and has threatened consumer boycott of Australian products. Outside the state media system, many journalists have been prosecuted for their work, and China remains the largest jailer of reporters in the world.

In July, Australia warned its citizens about the risk of detention in China, after tensions between the countries escalated. Writer Yang Hengjun is being investigated over alleged espionage and has been held since early 2019. Previously, she was CNBC Asia's China correspondent.

Australian Karm Gilespie was sentenced to death in China in June, seven years after he was arrested and charged with attempting to board an global flight with more than 7.5 kilograms (16.5 pounds) of methamphetamine.

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