Australia’s government is warning its citizens that they are at increased risk of being arrested by Chinese authorities.
Two weeks ago, an Australian working as a high-profile anchorwoman for a Chinese broadcaster was detained in China, the BBC reports.
Cheng Lei is currently being held under what the Chinese call “residential surveillance at a designated location”.
Her employer, CGTN (China Global Television Network), is an international English-language news channel owned by China Central Television, a state-run broadcaster.
She has worked for CGTN for eight years and presented a show on global business for the network.
Beijing has not yet confirmed her official status, but the authorities can imprison any suspect for up to six months without charge.
Cheng has two young children in Australia.
Australian broadcaster ABC News said friends and family have not heard from her in recent weeks, and her profile has been removed from CGTN’s website.
Relations between China and Australian have been deteriorating recently due to Australia calling for an official investigation into where and how the coronavirus pandemic began in China.
In what is seen as retaliation, China announced on Monday a second investigation into imports of Australian wine.
Anti-China sentiments have been rising in Australia, particularly after a deal was struck that gave China what some see as an unacceptable amount of influence over the port of Darwin.
Another Chinese-Australian, writer Yang Hengjun, remains in detention after being held in January 2019 for allegedly endangering China’s national security.