Australian journalist detained in China


AN Australian journalist has been detained in China, in a troubling development amid mounting tensions between the two countries.

It comes just weeks after authorities warned there could be arbitrary detention of Australia citizens in China, our largest trading partner.

The journalist, Cheng Lei, is an anchor on the state-owned China Global Television Network, which has since taken down her profile from its website.

She had studied Commerce at the University of Queensland, graduating in 1995.


Cheng Lei, Australian anchor for China's government-run English news channel CGTN, detained in Beijing. Picture: ABC
Cheng Lei, Australian anchor for China's government-run English news channel CGTN, detained in Beijing. Picture: ABC

It will provide a new range of challenges for the already troubled relationship between Beijing and Canberra.

The Australia Government has not indicated yet with regards to what, or if, she has been charged.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne last night confirmed Ms Cheng had been detained for more than two weeks.

"Formal notification was received on 14 August 2020 from Chinese authorities of her detention," Ms Payne said.

"Australian officials had an initial consular visit with Ms Cheng at a detention facility via video link on 27 August and will continue to provide assistance and support to her and her family."

She said further comment could not be provided due to privacy obligations.

In a video posted to YouTube by an Australian Government organisation Australia Global Alumni, Ms Cheng describes her enjoyment of journalism and working with CGTV.

"China is one of those subjects that can be talked up or talked down any of a number of notches, depending on the person's knowledge and experience," she says in the video from May 2018.

On July 8, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have said foreigners in China had been detained on "national security" grounds and warned Australians could be detained without reason.

The warning had some China security experts in Australia suggest the warning was due to increased concerns of "hostage diplomacy".

At the time, China's foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said people had "no need to worry" if they followed the law.

"I can tell you that as a principle, the Chinese government always protects the safety and legitimate rights and interests of foreign nationals in China," Mr Zhao said.

"There is no need to worry at all as long as they abide by laws and regulations."




Originally published as Australian journalist detained in China