China detains Chinese-Australian artist: Report

SYDNEY (AFP) - A Chinese-Australian artist has been detained in Beijing just ahead of the Tiananmen Square anniversary, a report said on Monday, with Canberra informing Beijing of its "strong interest" in the case.

Guo Jian, a former Tiananmen Square protester, was taken away on Sunday night from his home in Songzhuang, an art colony on the eastern fringe of Beijing, the Sydney Morning Herald said.

The 52-year-old Chinese-born Australian managed to send two short text messages to friends, saying he had been taken by police, the report said.

It cited a friend, artist Melanie Wang, as saying she was able to reach Guo on the phone briefly and he said police told him he would be released in 15 days.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs said it was troubled by the report.

"The Australian embassy in Beijing has contacted Chinese authorities to seek further information on the reported detention of Mr Guo Jian and to underline our strong interest in the matter," a spokesman told AFP.

"The Australian government stands ready to extend all possible consular assistance to Mr Guo."

Guo's detention came just days before the 25th anniversary of the June 4 military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square, during which hundreds of people were killed - by some estimates, more than 1,000.

China censors any mention of the crackdown and has ramped up already strict controls ahead of the anniversary.

Police have detained some 20 prominent liberal academics, lawyers and activists in recent weeks, according to the US-based group Human Rights in China.

Friends of Guo believe he was taken in by authorities because of a recent interview with the Financial Times, the Herald reported.

During the interview, he revealed he had created an artwork to privately commemorate the anniversary, covering a large diorama of Tiananmen Square with 160 kilograms of minced meat.

Guo reportedly emigrated to Australia in 1992 and returned to China in 2005.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.