“The Chinese relevant authorities are investigating the case in accordance with Chinese law,” an embassy statement said. “We urge the Australian side to respect China’s judicial sovereignty and refrain from interfering in the legal process in any form.”
Payne said China had refused Australia consular access to Yang since Dec. 30 because of COVID-19 concerns. Australia had requested telephone or written contact instead but had been refused.
“This is unacceptable treatment of an Australian citizen,” Payne said.
Yang’s poor health made him especially vulnerable to COVID-19. Australia has appealed for humanitarian considerations to apply to Yang’s situation, Payne said.
“We deeply regret that for over a year, our requests have not been taken up. Dr. Yang has had no access to legal representation and has been held in harsh conditions that have been detrimental to his physical and mental health,” Payne said.
Australia called for Yang’s immediate release and that he be allowed to leave China and travel to Australia with his wife.
“We have asked repeatedly that basic international standards of justice, procedural fairness and humane treatment apply,” Payne said.
Some analysts suspect Yang has been detained because of Chinese anger over Australian legislation passed by Parliament in 2018 that outlaws covert foreign interference in Australian politics and institutions.