Sydney: The Australian government on Thursday confirmed that a well-known writer and former Chinese official with Australian citizenship has been detained in his native country.
Yang Hengjun, a former Chinese diplomat turned democracy activist and novelist, was detained by security agents at the airport in the Chinese southern city of Guangzhou last Friday. He was travelling with his wife and stepdaughter from New York. The family was set to catch a connecting flight to Shanghai.
In a statement issued Thursday, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne called on Beijing to treat Yang’s case “transparently and fairly.” She said embassy officials will meet with Chinese authorities there “to seek further clarification” on Yang’s case and arrange consular access with him as soon as possible, VOA News reported.
Australian diplomatic officials released a statement on Thursday morning saying: “Chinese authorities informed the Australian Embassy in Beijing that they have detained Mr Yang Hengjun.”
The news of his detention comes as Australian Defence Minister Christopher Pyne begins an official visit to Beijing on Thursday.
Yang is a visiting scholar at Columbia University in New York. His detention in China comes in the aftermath of the detention of two Canadian nationals in China in apparent retaliation for the arrest of a senior Huawei executive in Canada.
Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer for Chinese telecom giant Huawei, was arrested in Vancouver on December 1 on behalf of the United States, over alleged violations of U.S. trade sanctions on Iran.