Chinese Journalist Charged With Espionage After Meeting Japan Diplomat, Family Says

Aldgra Fredly
By Aldgra Fredly
April 26, 2023China News
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Chinese Journalist Charged With Espionage After Meeting Japan Diplomat, Family Says
Dong Yuyu stands at the gates of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., in May 2017. (Dong Family via AP)

Chinese authorities have reportedly indicted a veteran journalist for espionage over a year after detaining him for meeting with a Japanese diplomat in Beijing.

Dong Yuyu, 61, was arrested in February 2022 while having lunch with a Japanese diplomat at a restaurant in a Beijing hotel. The diplomat was also detained for questioning but was later released.

Dong has since remained in custody, and his family has kept his detention a secret, hoping the charges will be reduced or dismissed. But they learned last month that Dong would be tried for espionage.

“[The family’s hope] was that investigators could understand that his foreign ties were not suspicious but a normal part of his job and a normal interaction between peoples in most parts of the world,” his family said in a statement, according to The Washington Post.

The exact date of his trial remains unclear. Dong may face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of espionage in China.

Dong is the latest in a series of liberal Chinese voices accused by Beijing of being linked to so-called foreign interference.

As a non-Communist Party member, Dong was one of the most pro-reform voices at the state-run Guangming Daily—where he worked since 1987—and wrote articles in favor of an independent legal system, his family said.

Dong was awarded a Nieman fellowship at Harvard University in 2006–2007 and became a visiting fellow at Keio University in Japan in 2010. Four years later, he served as a visiting professor at Hokkaido University in Japan.

‘No Evidence’ to Justify Dong’s Trial

The leaders of the U.S.-based National Press Club (NPC) issued a statement on April 24 calling for Dong’s release, saying that “no evidence has been presented that justifies sending his case to trial.”

They said that Dong had not been allowed to see his family since his arrest and had only met his counsel once.

“People tried for espionage in China are almost always convicted, with the typical sentence being 10 years,” they stated, urging the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to drop the charges against Dong.

The NPC leaders said that Dong has “helped the world have a better understanding of China and has brought back with him from Japan and the U.S. an understanding of life in those countries” through his work.

“He is a journalist with a great track record, and these actions against him do not encourage positive perceptions of China,” they added.

Iris Hsu, China representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), said prosecuting Dong is “absurd” as journalists should be allowed to report on China’s domestic and foreign affairs.

“Speaking to foreign diplomats is crucial to journalists covering international news. Going as far as trying Dong for espionage is absurd and cruel,” Hsu said in a statement.

Japan Demands Apology Over Diplomat’s Arrest

At a press conference on April 25, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said he was aware of the reports about Dong’s arrest but refused to comment “due to the nature of the matter.”

Japan’s foreign ministry last year lodged a strong protest with Beijing over the detention of the Japanese diplomat and demanded an apology.

The diplomat, whose identity has not been disclosed, was seized while carrying out his legitimate duties, according to the ministry.

The ministry emphasized that the detention violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which guarantees the immunity of diplomats from the civil and criminal jurisdiction of the host nation.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying accused the Japanese diplomat of engaging in activities that were “inconsistent with his capacity” in China. She noted that diplomats have a duty to abide by the laws and regulations of the host nation under the convention.

However, Hua refused a request to specify the so-called inappropriate activities she was referring to.

Frank Yue and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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