Amid deteriorating ties between Canberra and Beijing, Australian national Cheng Lei, who was detained last year by Chinese authorities, has been formally arrested on suspicion of espionage.
“The Australian Government has been advised that Australian citizen Ms Cheng Lei was formally arrested in China on 5 February, after 6 months of detention. Chinese authorities have advised that Ms Cheng was arrested on suspicion of illegally supplying state secrets overseas,” the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement.
The statement by the Foreign Affairs Department said the Australian Government has raised its serious concerns about Cheng’s detention regularly at senior levels, including about her welfare.
Australian Embassy officials have visited Cheng six times since her detention, most recently on 27 January 2021, in accordance with our bilateral consular agreement with China. “We expect basic standards of justice, procedural fairness and humane treatment to be met, in accordance with international norms,” the statement said.