“Chinese authorities have advised that Ms Cheng was arrested on suspicion of illegally supplying state secrets overseas,” Payne mentioned, including that “the Australian Government has raised its serious concerns about Ms Cheng’s detention regularly at senior levels, including about her welfare and conditions of detention.”
Cheng was a enterprise anchor on CGTN, the worldwide arm of China’s state-owned broadcaster CCTV, which has since scrubbed all reference to her from its web site and social media.
In her spare time, Cheng was lively within the Australian neighborhood in Beijing, collaborating in occasions on the Australian Chamber of Commerce and appearing as an “alumni ambassador” for the nation’s embassy.
Her last publish on WeChat, the Chinese social networking app, confirmed her on the opening of a Shake Shack outlet in Beijing on August 12, the primary restaurant opened in China by the US chain. Posing in a brilliant inexperienced costume, Cheng captioned the images with the hashtag “make shakes not war.”
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn’t instantly reply to a CNN Business request for remark. Asked about Cheng’s detention final 12 months, ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying mentioned: “China is a country under the rule of law, and we will act in accordance with the law.”
Cheng’s unique detention got here amid quickly worsening ties between Canberra and Beijing. After Australia known as for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, China focused it over commerce, slapping merchandise with tariffs and blocking acquisitions by Australian firms.
Bill Birtles, Beijing correspondent for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), and Mike Smith, Shanghai correspondent for the Australian Financial Review (AFR), had been informed they had been “persons of interest in an investigation” into Cheng. Both sought the safety of consular officers, and had been finally in a position to fly out of China after a five-day diplomatic standoff.
“I don’t think she would have done anything to harm national security in any way intentionally,” Louisa Wen, Cheng’s niece and spokeswoman for the household, informed the ABC. “We don’t know if she’s just been caught up in something that she herself didn’t realize.”