China Bans Wife of Detained Australian-Chinese Writer From Leaving the Country

July 8, 2019Australia
China Bans Wife of Detained Australian-Chinese Writer From Leaving the Country
Yang Hengjun, author and former Chinese diplomat, who is now an Australian citizen, display a name tag in an unspecified location in Tibet, China, mid-July, 2014. (Reuters)

The wife of an Australian man detained in China since January has been slapped with a travel ban, stopping her from leaving the country.

Yang Hengjun, a 53-year-old Chinese-born writer, was detained in the southern city of Guangzhou earlier in the year on charges of “endangering national security” after flying in from New York.

His wife Yuan Xiaoliang, who is a permanent resident of Australia, was questioned by Chinese authorities at the weekend after unsuccessfully trying to leave the country.

It is understood she is subject to an exit ban but was not detained.

Dr. Feng Chongyi, an Australian-based academic who is a friend of the couple, told Australia’s national broadcaster, the ABC, “The police make it very clear that she will be punished if she speaks to international media,”

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Australia had been regularly raising Yang’s case with China at senior levels.

“We have requested his case be treated fairly, transparently, and expeditiously,” Senator Payne said on Monday.

Australian foreign affairs minister Marise Payne
Australian foreign affairs minister Marise Payne speaks at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, on Nov. 30, 2018. (Nina Yan/The Epoch Times)

The minister said the Australian continued to have consular access, and asked that Yang be granted immediate access to his lawyers.

“Australia has asked for clarification regarding the reasons for his detention,” Senator Payne said.

“And we have said that if he is being detained purely for his political views then he should be released.”

A former Chinese diplomat, Yang is known for his writings on issues the regime considers to be sensitive like the democratisation of China, as well as freedom, human rights, and the rule of law and justice.

Yuan is not an Australian citizen, so has no right to consular access, but it is understood Australia has asked Chinese authorities that she be allowed to travel to Australia.

Yang has been an Australian citizen since 2002.

He had been living in New York as a visiting scholar at Columbia University, before leaving for Guangzhou on Jan. 18.

By Matt Coughlan. With reporting by NTD staff.

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