As blogger Yang Hengjun languishes, imprisoned in a secret location in Beijing accused of espionage, defence minister Christopher Pyne has been told his Chinese counterpart, General Wei Fenghe, would seek more information on the Australian.
The Conservative Party has long questioned Chinese Communist Party influence in Australia and over Australians. To show your support for a royal commission into Chinese Communist Party influence, click the box below:
The Australian Financial Review reports, Christopher Pyne has always shown a remarkable ability to manoeuvre through the shifting sands of Liberal politics without being tripped up. But he is fully exposed to the risks of shifting international politics during his trip to China.
Rather than demonstrating that last year's strained relations between Australia and China are finally back on track, the Defence Minister's visit can only now be seen through the prism of the detention of Chinese-Australian writer, Yang Hengjun.
Any Beijing trip by the Defence Minister was always going to be highly sensitive given the government's decision last August to ban China's telco equipment giant, Huawei, from participation in the rollout of the 5G mobile network.
The growing suspicion Yang's arrest is now a form of retaliation against Australia for the blocking of Huawei may not be correct given the increasingly punitive nature of Xi Jinping's regime and his determination to crush all dissent. Any of Yang's online criticisms of the regime from his home in the US have been relatively mild but might have still been enough to attract official attention when he flew back to China with his family last Saturday.
Yet his disappearance into the arms of security officials – and the delay in informing Australia – will compound anxiety in Canberra that Yang's fate is more part of a much broader political play with Australia caught in the middle.
In March, two years ago the government decided to block a mutual extradition treaty with China in direct response to Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi’s senate motion to do so.
At the time the Herald Sun said:
"Cory Bernardi … deserves our thanks for dragging into the light a seedy attempt by the Turnbull Government to quietly ratify an extradition treaty with the Communists who rule Peking." "The leadership went into full panic mode as it dawned that several of its own members were serious about voting with Bernardi."
And again, late last year, Senator Bernardi made the case in the Senate for a Royal Commission into Chinese communist government influence in Australia.
Senator Bernardi has told Sydney radio station 2CH, the failure of the Morrison government to call a royal commission into Chinese influence in Australia is of great concern.
To read Jennifer Hewett's full story, click here.
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