Senator Penny Wong from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs Office Thursday said that the “Australian Government is deeply troubled by the ongoing” detainment of Dr. Yang Hengju (also known as Dr. Yang Jun), an Australian citizen and academic. Yang first travelled to Guangzhou, China in January 19, 2019. Since then, Yang has been detained by Chinese authorities.The Australian government urged Chinese officials to follow international standards and China’s legal obligations to provide “basic standards of justice, procedural fairness and humane treatment” to Yang during his detention. The Australian government also promised to carry on the advocacy work for Yang in addition to providing consular assistance to Yang and his family.In 2019, Chinese authorities arrested Yang while he traveled through China. According to Geng Shuang, the spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chinese authorities arrested Yang on suspicion of espionage. At the time, Senator Marise Payne–speaking on behalf of the Australian Foreign Affairs Office, revealed that Chinese authorities denied Yang access to lawyers. Payne also said that Australia’s request for a fair and transparent resolution of the issue went unacknowledged. The Chinese government responded to Payne’s statement by expressing a strong dissatisfaction against Australia’s attempt to intervene in its judicial sovereignty.Yang’s former PhD supervisor at the University of Technology in Sydney, Feng Chongyi, said:Yang’s arbitrary detention in China is an outrageous political persecution due to his advocacy for universal values such as human rights, democracy and the rule of law.Yang was born in China and is a former employee at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Yang moved to Australia and obtained his Australian citizenship. Yang is a democracy advocate who, prior to his detainment, was active on social media platforms.Chinese authorities carried out a secret trial in May 2021 and detained Yang while awaiting a verdict. The court has since delayed the verdict 7 times.
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