Conflicts & War

Australian writer fears he will die in Chinese jail without medical treatment

Sydney, Australia, Aug 28 (EFE).- Chinese-Australian pro-democracy activist and writer Yang Hengjun, who was arrested in 2019 in China on espionage charges, fears that Beijing will let him die in prison after being diagnosed with a huge cyst in a kidney.

“If something happens with my health and I die in here, people outside won’t know the truth. That is frustrating. If something happens to me, who can speak for me?” Yang said from detention in a message conveyed by a friend, Australian public broadcaster ABC reported.

Last week, medical staff from China’s ministry of state security informed Yang that he had a four-inch (102 mm) cyst on his kidney, without giving him any options to treat this painful condition.

This situation gives rise to fears that Yang will suffer the same fate as Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died in Chinese custody in 2017, one of his colleagues, academic Feng Chongy, told the Sydney Morning Herald, asking the Australian authorities to access his medical records and demand proper treatment.

Yang Hengjun, a former Chinese foreign ministry official, was tried in May 2021 behind closed doors for espionage.

He faces a potential death sentence if convicted.

The writer says he is innocent of the unspecified espionage charges leveled against him.

Yang, who was born in China in 1965 and became an Australian citizen in 2002, had been living with his family in New York when in early 2019, he was arrested in the Chinese city of Guangzhou during a layover on his way to Australia.

Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles told ABC on Monday that the government has “constantly” raised the plight of detained Australians with China.

“Proper consular access to people who are in prison is a critical part of the rights our citizens have in any given country. We always seek to assert those rights with the governments concerned, and certainly with the Chinese government in this case,” he said.

The calls for Canberra to intercede for Yang and Chinese-Australian journalist Cheng Lei, who was arrested three years ago, come amid the possibility that Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping either during the G20 summit in India next month or an official visit to Beijing at the end of the year. EFE


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