Australian citizen has been detained in China, Canberra confirms

Ms Cheng Lei is a journalist and television anchor working for the Chinese Government's English news channel.
Ms Cheng Lei is a journalist and television anchor working for the Chinese Government's English news channel.PHOTO: CHENG LEI/TWITTER

CANBERRA (BLOOMBERG) - An Australian citizen has been detained in China, as relations between the two nations deteriorate over trade and security concerns.

Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement on Monday evening (Aug 31) the government had been informed on Aug 14 that Ms Cheng Lei had been detained in China.

Ms Cheng is a journalist and television anchor working for the Chinese government's English news channel, CGTN, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

Australian officials had an initial consular visit with Ms Cheng at a detention facility via video link on Aug 27 and will continue to provide assistance and support to her and her family, Ms Payne said in the statement.

Just last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison's government revealed it was seeking new powers to veto or scrap agreements that state governments reach with foreign powers, in a move aimed at weakening China's ability to gain influence in the nation through its Belt and Road Initiative.

While China remains Australia's largest trading partner, relations have markedly deteriorated since the government in Canberra banned Huawei Technologies from participating in its 5G network and passed a law to stem foreign interference.