A Chinese court sentenced pro-democracy writer and academic Yang Hengjun to a suspended death sentence after imprisoning him for five years on “vague” espionage charges.
Yang was arrested in 2019 after he arrived at Guangzhou Airport from New York and has been given a 2-year suspension. Once these two years come and go, he will automatically receive a life sentence, or if he were to re-offend, a lethal injection.
Australian officials and family expressed worry over Yang’s declining health and wellbeing. Foreign Minister Penny Wong said they will “pursue every possible avenue to secure a more lenient sentence” for Yang.
Yang’s death sentence likely caused Australia’s and China’s efforts to stabilize relations after several years of decline to be set back tremendously.