Grave Concern About Yang Hengjun's Detention

28 September 2019

Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick today expressed grave concern at reports that Australian writer Yang Hengjun is being shacked in chains and subjected to repeated interrogation at a Chinese Ministry of State Security detention centre in Beijing.  

"Reports published in the media about the conditions of Yang Hengjun’s detention raise grave concerns about his welfare," Senator Patrick said.

"It is very disturbing to also learn that Dr Yang has been told he could face the death penalty for alleged espionage."

"Dr Yang’s case tells us a great deal about the Communist Chinese Government’s underlying attitudes toward Australia."

"This should prompt the Australian Government to adopt a much more robust approach and pursue this matter at the highest levels of the Chinese Government."

"These latest reports leave no doubt that there has been a very negative turn in China’s relations with Australia, with the Chinese Government apparently determined to use politically motivated charges against an Australian citizen to intimidate members of the Chinese Australian community and send a blunt political message to the Australian Government."

"We need to make it crystal clear to Beijing that the arbitrary arrest and detention of an Australian citizen, and the bringing of the essentially political charge of espionage against him, are utterly unacceptable. Australian citizens should also be warned in forthright terms of the risks of arbitrary detention and political prosecution when visiting China."

"Dr Yang’s continued detention and unacceptable treatment further underlines the need for the Australian Parliament to undertake a comprehensive review of our relations with China, both to identify new opportunities and to highlight areas where greater caution is required in Australia’s national interest."

"Unfortunately, both the Coalition and Labor have repeatedly blocked Centre Alliance’s proposal for a comprehensive Senate inquiry into Australia’s relations with China."

"The sharp deterioration of Dr Yang’s circumstances suggests, however, that a policy of political self-censorship only encourages Beijing to aggressively pursue relations on their terms, not the mutually beneficial and respectful relationship we need to have.  Both the Coalition and Labor need to rethink this as a matter of urgency." 

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