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Monday, 31 August 2020

BREAKING NEWS: High-profile Australian journalist working for Chinese state media is detained in Beijing

  • An Australian journalist has been detained in Beijing for two weeks
  • Foreign Minister Marise Payne confirmed Cheng Lei had been detained
  • Ms Cheng is an anchor on state broadcaster China Global Television Network
  • She has not been charged but is being detained by Chinese authorities 
An Australian journalist has been detained in Beijing in relation to a 'highly sensitive case'. 
Commerce graduate and mother-of-two Cheng Lei faces up to six months in custody after she was placed in a 'residential hold' two weeks ago.
According to Chinese law Ms Cheng can be held for up to six months for questioning - even if she is not charged - and could be denied access to a lawyer or family and friends for the duration. 
She has been in the custody of Chinese authorities for two weeks, Foreign Minister Marise Payne confirmed on Monday.
Ms Payne would not offer further details about the case, but said 'formal notification was received on 14 August 2020 from Chinese authorities of her detention'.
Ms Cheng has two children living in Melbourne, but has been working as a TV anchor in China for eight years. 
'Australian officials had an initial consular visit with Ms Cheng at a detention facility via video link on 27 August and will continue to provide assistance and support to her and her family,' Ms Payne said.
Ms Cheng has reportedly not been charged but is being held under a 'residential surveillance at a designated location'
Ms Cheng has reportedly not been charged but is being held under a 'residential surveillance at a designated location'
'Further comment will not be provided owing to the Government's privacy obligations.'
Ms Cheng works for state broadcaster China Global Television Network, but her profile on the CGTN webpage has since disappeared and now leads to an error message. 
Friends first became concerned about Ms Cheng when she did not reply to several messages in recent weeks. 
Ms Cheng has reportedly not been charged but is being held under a 'residential surveillance at a designated location'.
The detention allows investigators to imprison a person for up to six months and suspend all access to lawyers and the outside world.
Ms Cheng's supporters are reportedly seeking legal representation for her.  
Foreign Minister Marise Payne confirmed Cheng Lei (pictured) had been detained, but would not offer any further details about the case
Foreign Minister Marise Payne confirmed Cheng Lei (pictured) had been detained, but would not offer any further details about the case
Ms Cheng's family said they have faith in the Chinese government in a statement provided to the ABC.
'As a family we are aware of the current situation with regard to Cheng Lei's status as advised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade,' they said.
The family confirmed they are in close consultation with DFAT and are 'doing everything we can as a family to support Cheng Lei'.  
'In China, due process will be observed and we look forward to a satisfactory and timely conclusion to the matter.
'We ask that you respect that process and understand there will be no further comment at this time.'
Ms Cheng describes herself as 'a passionate orator of the #China story' on social media, but has not posted anything since August 12.
Her most recent post read: '#Shakeshack's first #Beijingstore set to open in 12 hours' time…the staff are psyched! Loving the Beijing touches in food and decor. Opening ceremony will feature pedicabs and pesky Beijing uncles! Make shakes, not war.'
Back on August 6th, Ms Lei revealed she had an interview lined up with an Irish investment agency regarding TikTok, but suggested it was cancelled 'due to (government?) pressures'.    
Ms Cheng is an Australian citizen and journalist working as an anchor on state broadcaster China Global Television Network
Ms Cheng is an Australian citizen and journalist working as an anchor on state broadcaster China Global Television Network

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