The Latest: China says holding writer on security charge

BEIJING (AP) — The Latest on the Chinese-Australian writer held in China (all times local):

5 p.m.

China says it is holding a Chinese-Australian writer on the charge of “engaging in criminal activities endangering China’s national security.”

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying offered no details in making the comments about Yang Hengjun in response to a question at a daily news briefing Thursday.

Such charges are extremely vague and frequently leveled at critics of the ruling Communist Party, with little hard evidence provided in support.

Australia’s Defense Minister Christopher Pyne said earlier Thursday he would press Chinese officials to treat Yang fairly and release all information about his case.

Pyne told reporters at the start of his visit to Beijing that the spy novelist and online commentator was being held under a type of home detention in Beijing.


1:55 p.m.

Australia’s foreign minister has urged China to treat a Chinese-Australian writer fairly and says there is no evidence that his detention is part of a backlash against Canada’s arrest of a top Chinese telecommunications executive.

Spy novelist and online commentator Yang Hengjun was a Chinese diplomat before he became an Australian citizen. Friends say the 53-year-old had been living in New York as a visiting scholar at Columbia University and had returned to China last week with his wife and 14-year-old stepdaughter.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Australian Embassy officials had their first meeting with Chinese officials in Beijing on Yang’s detention on Thursday. Australia had requested urgent consular accesses to him, an explanation for his detention and of possible charges.

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