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Chinese Officials Attempting to Silence Australian Journalist Cheng Lei During Premier Li Qiang’s Visit in Canberra

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An Australian journalist and former high-profile prisoner, Cheng Lei, revealed that Chinese officials made overt attempts to obstruct her during a press conference in Canberra. The incident occurred as Premier Li Qiang visited the parliamentary premises, seemingly in a bid to limit negative coverage.

Cheng, who previously worked as a CGTN anchor, endured a three-year detention in China on espionage charges before being released in October 2023. Her experiences during captivity shed light on harsh conditions and treatment she faced.

Upon Cheng’s arrival to cover Li’s visit, Chinese officials made deliberate efforts to prevent her from being filmed, with two unidentified individuals positioning themselves near her to impede the camera’s view. Subsequently, Australian officials intervened to relocate Cheng to a different seat.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, while unaware of the specific incident, emphasized the importance of journalists’ full participation within the parliamentary setting, highlighting the need for transparent reporting.

Cheng’s detention from August 2020 to October 2023, on allegations of supplying state secrets abroad, was widely perceived as politically motivated. The former journalist, known for her interviews with prominent CEOs, underwent a closed-door trial, further straining relations between Canberra and Beijing.

Li’s visit to Australia signifies a shift towards reconciliation following past economic tensions, indicative of a burgeoning diplomatic rapprochement between the two nations. Amid a backdrop of competing global influence, Li’s diplomatic overture aims to foster an environment of stability in Sino-Australian relations.

Rachel Adams

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