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China acts against Chinese-Aust writer

Australia is seeking confirmation from China that Chinese-Australian writer and former diplomat Yang Hengjun has been moved to a detention centre in Beijing.

The Chinese-born fiction writer, pro-democracy campaigner and former diplomat was being held in Guangzhou since January, after flying in from the United States.

The 53-year-old, who’s held Australian citizen since 2002 and has a doctorate from the University of Technology Sydney, was living in New York as a visiting scholar at Columbia University.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said late on Thursday the Australian Embassy in Beijing is seeking confirmation after it was advised by a relative of Mr Yang that he had been transferred to a detention centre in the capital.

“Australia continues to have consular access and have again asked that he be granted immediate access to his lawyers,” the spokesperson said.

The ABC on Thursday cited friends and family as saying Dr Yang is expected to be charged with endangering state security.

His Melbourne lawyer Rob Stary told AAP the charges were yet to be confirmed by DFAT and the Chinese embassy in Canberra.

Dr Yang’s wife, Yuan Xiaoliang, who is a permanent resident of Australia, has been banned from leaving China.

Foreign policy experts and human rights advocacy groups have urged the government to step up diplomatic efforts, with critics arguing its response has not been strong enough.

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