A Chinese-Australian news anchor at CGTN, the international arm of the Chinese regimes state broadcaster, has been detained in Beijing amid testy relations between Canberra and Beijing.
Australias foreign minister Marise Payne confirmed the arrest of Cheng Lei, a Chinese-born, naturalized Australian citizen and host of a business show that airs on Chinese state-owned network CGTN. Beijing notified the Australian government of Chengs detention over two weeks ago, according to a ministry statement released on Aug. 31 night.
“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,” it read.
The foreign minister said the department would not provide further comment “owing to the Governments privacy obligations.”
Chinese authorities have not explained why she was arrested.
Cheng, 49, is the second Chinese-Australian that Chinese authorities have detained since last year, as bilateral tensions escalated over issues such as trade, Beijings tightening control on Hong Kong, and the Chinese regimes handling of the CCP virus outbreak.
In July, Australia warned its citizens in a travel advisory that they would run the risk of “arbitrary detention” if they travel to mainland China, noting that Chinese authorities have detained foreigners for “endangering national security.”
After graduating from the University of Queensland, Cheng returned to China and became a business analyst for a Sino-Australian joint venture in 2001, then began her journalism career at Chinas state broadcaster CCTV a year later, according to her CGTN profile page. The profile has since been removed from the website, along with videos featuring Chengs previous reports. After working as a CNBC China correspondent for nine years, she began working at CGTNs office in Beijing in 2012.
Reporters Without Borders, a press freedom watchdog, called the arrest “alarming,” and expressed “deep concern over this new attempt to bring ANY reporter to heel.”