Australia

‘Justice’: Strong statement on Cheng Lei

Penny Wong’s powerful statement on imprisoned Aussie Cheng Lei. Supplied: Facebook

Foreign Minister Penny Wong has released a powerful statement on an Australian citizen detained overseas, calling for her to be treated humanely and subject to “basic standards of justice”.

Australian journalist Cheng Lei has been imprisoned in China for two years, accused of sharing state secrets.

The 46-year-old was the subject of a closed trial in Beijing back in March, but the full details and outcome of that case are not known.

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On the second anniversary since Ms Cheng was detained, Senator Wong said the federal government would keep advocating for her.

Australian journalist Cheng Lei has been detained in China for two years. Picture: AFP PHOTO /Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) / Australia Global Alumni
Australian journalist Cheng Lei has been detained in China for two years. Picture: AFP PHOTO /Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) / Australia Global Alumni

“Today marks two years since Australian citizen Cheng Lei was detained in China,” Senator Wong said on Saturday.

“Our thoughts today are with Ms Cheng‘s family, including her two young children, with whom she has had no contact since she was detained.

“Ms Cheng faced a closed trial in Beijing on 31 March 2022. She is yet to learn the outcome.”

Senator Wong went to say that the government would keep supporting Ms Cheng and calling for her rights to be respected.

“Since Ms Cheng was detained in August 2020, the Australian Government has consistently called for basic standards of justice, procedural fairness and humane treatment to be met, in accordance with international norms,” she said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong said the government would continue to support Cheng Lei. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong said the government would continue to support Cheng Lei. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

“We will continue to support Ms Cheng and her family, and to advocate for Ms Cheng‘s interests and wellbeing.”

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It comes after China’s top diplomat in Australia called for calm earlier in the week when he was pressed about the issue.

Chinese Ambassador Xiao Qian said Ms Cheng’s rights were “well protected” and her case was still under a “jurisdiction process”.

“There are a couple of Australian citizens in China that are under custody according to Chinese rules and laws, and their basic rights are well protected, don’t worry about that,” he told the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday.

People's Republic of China ambassador Xiao Qian said there was no need for concern regarding Cheng Lei. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
People’s Republic of China ambassador Xiao Qian said there was no need for concern regarding Cheng Lei. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

Asked if this meant that there was no immediate appetite to release Ms Cheng, Mr Xiao said her case was “still in the process”.

“I think we all have to respect the laws and regulations of China,” he said.

He also said “it’s easy (for Australian citizens detained in China) to get access to their relatives” and any issues Ms Cheng’s partner and two young children have had with getting in contact with her were “because of the pandemic”.

These statements have been refuted by her family.

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