- A Chinese court has issued a suspended death sentence to Australian scholar Yang Hengjun for allegedly spying for an unnamed country. The sentence came five years after he was arrested at the Guangzhou airport.1
- Yang, a 57-year-old blogger, was arrested in 2019. His sentence, which could be commuted to life imprisonment if he commits no more crimes, has been made public three years after he was tried in a closed-door hearing.2
- Yang’s family said the Chinese court's decision was the 'extreme end of worst expectations.' The Australian government said it was 'appalled by this decision,' and it also registered its protest with the Chinese ambassador.3
- China, which has not revealed the country Yang allegedly spied for, also denied Australian diplomats entry to his trial. Yang said last year he might die in prison after doctors found a cyst in his kidney.4
- Yang reportedly worked for the Chinese Ministry of State Security for 14 years. He moved to Australia in 2000 and 'transformed himself into a liberal' — his own characterization. At the time of his arrest, he was working in New York.5
- Yang was reportedly held in a dungeon-like cell with no direct sunlight for years. He was rarely able to read books or write letters home. His sentencing could potentially hinder attempts to revive diplomatic ties between Canberra and Beijing.6
Sources: 1BBC News, 2Sky News, 3Guardian, 4CNN, 5Al Jazeera and 6The Telegraph.
- Anti-China narrative, as provided by Archive. China is pushing the envelope on everyday liberties and brazenly mocking the global community. Even by the country's own standards, Yang's case is appalling. His mistreatment, the opaqueness of his trial, and now his inexplicable death sentence — even if suspended — show a disregard for basic human rights. Alarmingly, this follows a wider pattern the free world must not ignore.
- Pro-China narrative, as provided by Global Times. Beijing has strong and valid reasons to believe Yang was spying for another country, but as usual, China's critics are lashing out at its legal processes without reason. His trial was held out of the public eye because it involved sensitive state secrets. Australia, along with other countries, must respect Chinese courts and stop interfering in its internal affairs. Yang's legal rights have been given all due consideration.