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Australian detained in "unacceptable" conditions in China: minister

Australian detained in

Yang, also a former Chinese Foreign Ministry official, was arrested in Guangzhou in January while on a stopover from the U.S. to Australia, and was detained under a kind of house arrest without his location or charges being revealed.

Espionage is punishable by loss of life in China, and Beijing has instructed Australia to not intervene.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Monday a Chinese-born Australian writer was being held by Beijing in "unacceptable" conditions, including daily interrogations while shackled.

The public rebuke immediately drew a negative response from China, which is Australia's largest trading partner.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has denied that Yang, one of the foreigners recently arrested in China, was a spy. Previous diplomatic spats have resulted in disruptions to coal exports and wine shipments.

"We would like to see the issues about access to lawyers, about getting a clear enunciation of what the matter is that have been brought against the Australian citizen at the center of this case, and. that his access to family and treatment that would meet, you know, world standards is being provided to him", Morrison told reporters.

Yang was "now in good health condition and there is no so-called torture at all", she added.

Beijing claims that the detainee's rights have been guaranteed and asked Australia to respect its judicial sovereignty and stop interfering with how it manages its cases.

Although Yang's more recent writings had mostly avoided Chinese politics, he became prominent in the early 2000s when he earned the nickname "democracy peddler".

Australia has repeatedly asked the Chinese authorities for an indictment of the 54-year-old spy novelist, Payne said.

The consular visit revealed Yang was undergoing repetitive daily interrogations daily and being "shackled by the hands and feet", his lawyer Sarah Condon told AFP. "Now he has this purported diagnosis and is being fed a concoction of drugs".

The Australian leader did not specifically cite China, but Canberra has become increasingly wary about Beijing's influence within Australia and across the Pacific.

Three months ago, Beijing confirmed to the Australian government that Yang had been formally charged with espionage on August 23.

China denied it was behind the attack.



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