Published: Fri, July 19, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Chinese-Australian in criminal detention in China

Chinese-Australian in criminal detention in China

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. Stary did not have details of the charge.

The minister noted that Canberra had raised Yang's case repeatedly with Beijing at senior levels and written twice to China's foreign minister requesting a "fair and transparent" resolution, as well as access to his lawyer.

Until this week, he was being held under "residential surveillance at a designated location" (RSDL), a form of detention that allows the authorities to hold people for serious crimes.

He later moved to Australia, where he started writing online and became a voice critical of China's government. 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.

The ABC on Thursday cited friends and family as saying Dr Yang is expected to be charged with endangering state security.

"The government has expressed concern about Dr. Yang's welfare and the conditions under which he is held", she said.

"Australian Embassy officials have visited Dr Yang six times, most recently on 27 June, in accordance with our bilateral consular agreement with China". The embassy had been notified of the transfer by Yang's family.

Yang's friend, University of Technology Sydney academic Feng Chongyi, on Friday congratulated Payne for what he described as "the strong statement I have been asking for".

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The 53-year-old writer routinely posted satirical commentaries critical of the Chinese government to his almost 130,000 Twitter followers before his detention in January, during a visit to see family in China.

Beijing hit back and said it "deplores" the remarks made by Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, who had also demanded Yang's release if he was held for his political views.

The arrests of two Canadians in China were widely suspected as such, and Payne has previously said Australia's government would be concerned if Yang's detention was related to the other cases.

Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer for Chinese telecom giant Huawei, was arrested in Vancouver last December on behalf of the United States, which is seeking her extradition over alleged violations of USA trade sanctions on Iran.

Pearson said China had no legal basis for this.

"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.

Yang's case has drawn widespread attention amid growing worldwide concern over the detention of foreign citizens in China during geopolitical disputes, though China denies the arrests are politically motivated.

"We have asked for clarification regarding the reasons for Dr. Yang's detention. This has not occurred", Payne said.

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