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  • Writer's pictureBy The Financial District

Chinese Officials Try To Block Freed Journalist In Australia

Chinese officials appear to have blocked a formerly imprisoned journalist from the view of cameras at an event between Chinese Premier Li Qiang and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in Canberra, Hannah Ritchie reported for BBC News.


The 49-year-old was working as a business reporter for China's state-run English-language TV station CGTN when she was arrested in August 2020 and accused of "illegally supplying state secrets overseas." I Photo: Sarah Hodges, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website – www.dfat.gov.au



Cheng Lei, who was imprisoned by Beijing for three years, later said she believed two embassy officials had stood in front of her to prevent her from "saying or doing something" that they thought "would be a bad look."


Li's visit—the first by a Chinese premier since 2017—has been seen as another step in the thawing of tensions between the two nations after a string of disputes.



Cheng, now working for Sky News Australia, said she had been sitting in an area assigned for media representatives when the two officials "went to great lengths to block me from the cameras and to flank me."


Footage showed Australian officials then trying to intervene while Ms. Cheng took photographs of the incident on her phone.



Both Li and Albanese said bilateral discussions so far had been constructive. When asked about whether he saw Cheng being blocked, Mr. Albanese said he "wasn't aware" there had been an issue, but that "it's important people be allowed to participate fully."


He added: "That's what should happen in this building and anywhere else in Australia."



The 49-year-old was working as a business reporter for China's state-run English-language TV station CGTN when she was arrested in August 2020 and accused of "illegally supplying state secrets overseas."


She was tried in secret and her charges were never made public before her surprise release in October last year.




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