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China Says Australian Writer Is Suspected of National Security Crimes

“They can use all kinds of leverage — using your family, tell you that your family will be bankrupt or telling you things they’ve said,” Mr. Feng said. “They will use all kinds of leverage to force a confession.”

China’s detention last month of the two Canadians — Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat turned policy analyst, and Michael Spavor, a businessman — occurred less than two weeks after the Canadian police arrested Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei, China’s biggest telecommunications equipment company.

Ms. Meng is on bail in Vancouver, facing a likely court battle over whether she can be extradited to the United States, where prosecutors have accused her of taking part in fraudulent bank transactions for deals that violated American sanctions on Iran. Supporters of Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor have said that the Chinese authorities appeared to have engineered their detention to put pressure on Canada to let Ms. Meng return to China.

It is less clear, though, whether Mr. Yang’s detention is related to broader tensions between China and Australia.

Mr. Yang, who worked for the Chinese Foreign Ministry before setting out on his own as a novelist and commentator, became an Australian citizen in 2002. After migrating, he remained an influential voice in China with a large internet following. He has used his online presence to offer lectures, current affairs commentaries, advice on migration to Western countries and online sales of health supplements while also staying within the bounds of official acceptance.

Critics say that even as he cast himself as an independent voice, Mr. Yang went out of his way to soothe the Chinese government. He has spent the past two years with his family in New York, where he was a visiting scholar at Columbia University.

In recent years, Australia has become more wary of Chinese political and military influence, passing a sweeping new espionage bill last year to counter foreign interference, even as Australia’s economy has benefited from China’s enormous appetite for raw materials and agricultural goods. And last year, Australia said that Huawei could not take part in a planned rollout of 5G, the next generation of mobile phone networks.

Source: NYT > World

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