The deteriorating relationship between Australia and China is beginning to have a direct impact on the citizens of both countries. Journalists working in China are running away from China, so Chinese students studying in Australia are scared. An Australian employee working on China’s state TV CGTN has been arrested on suspicion of ‘illegally’ sending the country’s confidential information out of China. This arrest has further increased tensions between the two countries.
Australian Foreign Minister Marijne Payne said in a statement in Canberra on Monday that Cheng Lei, who has been in Chinese custody since August 13, 2020, was formally arrested by China on 5 February. Australians have regularly met Consular Cheng during the period of detention. Payne said the Australian government had been raising serious concerns about Cheng’s detention before senior Chinese officials. Chinese officials say Cheng has been arrested on suspicion of illegally sending out confidential information to the country.
Australian journalist Cheng joined CGTN’s Beijing-based Broadcaster Service in 2012 after spending nine years at the American news network CNBC. Here he got his place among the famous anchors due to his work. She was conducting high-profile interviews of daily ‘Global Business’ shows as well as running ‘Content Innovation’ programs. From time to time she also participated in business discussions.
Cheng was basically a business anchor. In her spare time, she was active in the Australian community in Beijing. She attended seminars at the Australian Chamber of Commerce, as well as working as an ‘alumni ambassador’ for the country’s embassy. When asked about Cheng’s detention last year, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said that China is a country operating under the rule of law and we will work according to the law.
Significantly, the relationship between the two countries has deteriorated rapidly since Australia started demanding investigation regarding the introduction of the corona virus. Meanwhile, the case of Cheng’s arrest was encountered. Soon after Cheng’s detention, panic spread among foreign journalists working in China.
Chinese authorities also tried to interrogate two Australian journalists in the name of national security. After questioning, both journalists left their offices and returned to China. This is the first time in the history of 50 years of China that there is no journalist in the Australian media office in China.
In Australia, Cheng’s family members told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that they do not know for what reasons he was detained. The family says that ‘they do not think that he would have done anything deliberately to harm China’s national security in any way’.
On behalf of the family, Cheng’s niece and spokesperson Louisa Wen spoke to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Cheng’s niece said that ‘we don’t know what she’s stuck with that she doesn’t know about herself’.
After the conversation, Cheng’s family members appeared tense. He said that the Australian Government officials are in constant touch with him. They keep telling them the details of the talks with the Chinese authorities. Australians living in China are feeling uneasy after this incident. Many people in Australia are preparing to return to their homeland. When and how the impact of the whole event will be seen in Chinese students studying in Australia, it will be seen in the coming time. It is certain that the general public is tasting the sourness in the relations between the two countries.