Australia 'deeply disappointed' by detention of citizen in China

Clay Curtis
July 19, 2019

The Chinese-born writer and businessman was detained in the southern city of Guangzhou in January, while waiting for a transfer to Shanghai after flying in from NY, where he was a visiting scholar at Columbia University.

China's foreign ministry said Friday it has taken "compulsory measures" against Chinese-born Australian writer Yang Hengjun, who has been in detention since January on suspicion of action that endangers state security.

The ministry says Yang is facing possible charges of endangering state security.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Thursday it learned from Yang Hengjun's family about his transfer, and was seeking confirmation from its Chinese counterparts.

Yang, who was born in China, was detained in the southern city of Guangzhou in January amid growing tension between Australia and its largest trading partner after Chinese telecoms giant Huawei was blocked from participating in a 5G mobile project previous year. This can involve being guarded 24-hours a day with lights on continuously and tortures including sleep deprivation, being tied to a chair or forced to stand for hours.

Yang has not been formally charged.

Earlier this month it was revealed Ms Yuan was questioned by Chinese authorities after trying to leave the country.

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Yang has been an Australian citizen since 2002.

Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne speaks during a news conference at Australian Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, January 10, 2019.

Payne confirmed Friday that he had been transferred to a criminal detention centre. The latest development comes amid the detention of two Canadian nationals in China in apparent retaliation for the arrest of a senior Chinese executive in Canada. In response, China called on Australia to stop issuing irresponsible remarks.

"They have taken some many hostages around the world, there needs to be collective action to block the Chinese government from doing these bad things", Feng said.

"Formal notification was received today from Chinese authorities of his criminal detention", she said.

Experts and human rights advocates say Australia's approach to Dr Yang's detention in China has been ineffective and say active and vocal intervention is required.

"We have requested his case be treated fairly, transparently, and expeditiously", Payne said in a statement.

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