China’s foreign policy has changed since the Tiananmen Square uprising in 1989. At that time, the country was a rising superpower, but now it is a struggling economic power that is trying to regain its lost glory.

China has turned to kidnapping citizens and holding them for political gain. The latest victim is blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng. He was taken from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing by Chinese security officials last month after a dramatic escape from his closely guarded home. His abduction has raised fresh questions about the safety of foreigners living in China and the extent and limits of government control over foreign diplomats.

The WSJ’s Sue Kelly and Craig Giammona have tackled a difficult topic: China’s kidnapping of a Swedish employee in March, handing him over to the Chinese government and then to Swedish authorities. The WSJ piece is a very thorough overview, including the background behind the kidnapping, the response from the West, the treatment of the Swede, and the potential long-term impact for the Western relationship with China.

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May 24, 2021 6:17 pm ET

Yang Hengjun gestures at an unidentified location in Tibet in mid-July 2014.

Photo:

Reuters

A famous Chinese saying goes: Killing a chicken to scare a monkey is setting an example to scare many. China treats Australia like a chicken. The most recent example is hostage Yang Hengjun, who was charged with espionage in China this week.

In 2018, Australia infuriated Beijing by banning Chinese telecoms companies Huawei and ZTE from using its mobile 5G network.

Sir, I want to thank you for your support. Yang,

Writer and Australian citizen, had the misfortune to travel to China a few months later.

In January 2019, authorities arrested him on vague charges of endangering national security, though Australia’s foreign minister.

Mariz Payne.

said last week that China had not provided any explanation or evidence for the allegations. He has been detained by Chinese authorities for more than two years, and according to Ms Payne, Mr Yang has no access to his family and limited and delayed access to his legal representative.

Since then, relations between China and Australia have deteriorated. Last year Canberra called for an independent investigation into the origin of Covid-19, to which Beijing responded by imposing tariffs and trade restrictions on a range of Australian products. Ms Payne angered Beijing again this spring by cancelling two investment agreements between Victoria and the Chinese government.

Mr. Yang’s trial will begin on May 27 and it looks like China will exclude Canadian diplomats from participating as observers. Last week, Payne criticized the process, calling it closed and opaque so far. The Chinese Embassy responded with a statement calling on Australia to respect China’s judicial sovereignty and not to interfere in any way with the legitimate handling of the case by Chinese judicial authorities.

Random arrests and hostage diplomacy in China make a mockery of the law. The message is clear: If the country does not submit to Beijing’s will, its citizens travelling to China could become political hostages.

Last year, Chinese authorities arrested an Australian broadcaster…

Cheng Lei

for passing state secrets to foreign military forces. And two Canadians,

Michael Spavor.

и

Michael Kovriga,

Were stolen in December 2018 after the arrest of a Huawei executive in Canada.

Meng Wanzhou.

China has not allowed Canadian diplomats to attend his trial; the men are awaiting the court’s ruling.

This tactic may deter some monkeys, but it has also awakened the world to the reality that under Chinese hegemony, anyone can be a chicken.

Main Street (8/17/20): If the billionaire becomes a dissident, the takeover of Hong Kong will be complete. Image: Apple Daily

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Appeared in print at 25. May 2021.

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