Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will raise the issue of an Australian writer jailed in China on espionage allegations when he meets with Chinese counterparts this weekend.
Mr Albanese will land in Beijing on Saturday, becoming the first Australian leader to visit China in seven years.
During the landmark four-day visit, he will meet with Chinese counterparts including Chinese President Xi Jinping in an attempt to mend relations between the two countries.
Speaking in the Northern Territory before his departure on Saturday, Mr Albanese said he would raise the issue of Yang Hengjun’s imprisonment when he meets with the Chinese president.
“I will be saying that Dr Yang’s case needs to be resolved and I will be speaking about his human rights, the nature of the detention and the failure to have transparent processes,” Mr Albanese said.
Dr Yang, a democracy activist and blogger, has been imprisoned in China for more than four years since his arrest in January 2019 on espionage charges.
In a letter to Mr Albanese earlier this week, Dr Yang’s children asked the Prime Minister to help secure his return to Australia.
“We ask that you make clear that it is not possible to stabilise the bilateral relationship with a government that is holding an Australian citizen just a few kilometres south of where you will be hosted,” Dr Yang’s family said in the letter.
His family are holding out hope following the release of journalist Cheng Lei, who spent more than three years in detention in China.
Dr Yang’s family said he was at risk of dying in jail and asked Mr Albanese to “do all in your power to save our father’s life and return him immediately”.
“I have raised this issue before, we will always raise the issues of Australian citizens when we meet with international leaders,” Mr Albanese said.
“That is something that we do consistently – and I will do it again in a way that is aimed at achieving an outcome in the interest of Dr Yang and his family.”