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Australian-Chinese dual national Yang Henjun latest in spat of detentions

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Australian-Chinese dual national Yang Henjun latest in spat of detentions

Yang Henjun australia china
Yang Henjun australia china
Photo: Weican Meng

Australian Defence Minister Christopher Pyne is seeking answers from his counterparts in China today, two days after Beijing admitted it had detained dual Chinese-Australian citizen Yang Henjun.

Mr Hengjun, a former Chinese diplomat and now an outspoken commentator on Chinese affairs, was detained at a Shanghai airport on Saturday on charges of “endanger[ing] national security”. But some, including his former PhD supervisor, believe the arrest was partly triggered by Australian government criticising China for the arrest of three Canadian citizens. Those arrests are believed to have been triggered by the detention of Huawei’s chief financial officer by Canadian authorities on December 1, which has led to a deep freeze in US-Canada relations.

This spate of arrests is just one part of a trend of detentions around the world, ranging from Poland to Russia to Washington, as individuals find themselves in the crossfire of rising geopolitical tensions, particularly among Moscow, Washington, and Beijing.

With an economy heavily reliant on Chinese demand—almost a third of Australian exports are destined for the Middle Kingdom—officials in Canberra will be keen to resolve Yang Henjun’s detention amicably. Like their Canadian and Polish counterparts before them, Australian businessmen and academics—particularly those who also hold Chinese citizenship—may begin to reconsider travel to the world’s second largest economy.

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