Cheng Lei, Australian anchor for China’s government-run English news channel CGTN, detained in Beijing

Cheng Lei, Australian anchor for China’s government-run English news channel CGTN, detained in Beijing

A high-profile Australian television anchor for the Chinese Government’s English news channel, CGTN, has been detained in Beijing in a highly sensitive case posing a fresh challenge to Australia-China relations.

A statement from Foreign Minister Marise Payne confirmed Cheng Lei was being held by authorities in the Chinese capital and Australian diplomats were permitted to speak to her last week via video conference.

“The Australian Government has been informed that an Australian citizen, Ms Cheng Lei, has been detained in China,” the statement said.

“Formal notification was received on 14th of August from Chinese authorities of her detention.

“Australian officials had an initial consular visit with Ms Cheng at a detention facility via video link on 27th of August and will continue to provide assistance and support to her and her family.”

Friends became concerned when Ms Cheng did not reply to messages in recent weeks, fuelling speculation among her Chinese state media colleagues.