Australia demands China treat detained national ‘fairly’

SYDNEY: Australia on Thursday demanded China handle the case of detained author Yang Hengjun “transparently and fairly,“ while insisting on consular access to the Chinese-Australian.

“Our Embassy in Beijing will meet with Chinese authorities this morning to seek further clarification of the nature of this detention,“ the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

“We will continue to make representations to China to ensure that this matter is dealt with transparently and fairly,“ the department added.

Yang – a novelist, democracy advocate and former Chinese diplomat – went missing shortly after he made a return visit to China from the United States last week.

Once described as China’s “most influential political blogger,“ Yang became an Australian citizen in 2000, but is currently based at New York’s Columbia University.

His criticism of the Chinese government and support for democracy frequently made him a target of Beijing’s state security apparatus.

He went missing once during a 2011 trip to China, but resurfaced days later, describing his disappearance as a “misunderstanding.”

But his current detention comes at a moment of high tension between Western countries and an increasingly muscular Beijing, prompting fears that he may be the victim of a dragnet by Chinese security services targeting foreigners.

The arrest of a senior executive of Chinese telecom giant Huawei at Vancouver airport has prompted a spate of high profile arrests of foreign nationals, including two Canadians. — AFP

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