China Suspends Death Sentence For Australian Writer

China Suspends Death Sentence For Australian Writer
Image copyright: Frédéric Soltan /Contributor/Corbis News via Corbis News

The Facts

  • A Chinese court has issued a suspended death sentence to Australian scholar Yang Hengjun for allegedly spying for an unnamed country. The sentence came five years after he was arrested at the Guangzhou airport.

  • Yang, a 57-year-old blogger, was arrested in 2019. His sentence, which could be commuted to life imprisonment if he commits no more crimes, has been made public three years after he was tried in a closed-door hearing.

The Spin

Anti-China narrative

China is pushing the envelope on everyday liberties and brazenly mocking the global community. Even by the country's own standards, Yang's case is appalling. His mistreatment, the opaqueness of his trial, and now his inexplicable death sentence — even if suspended — show a disregard for basic human rights. Alarmingly, this follows a wider pattern the free world must not ignore.

Pro-China narrative

Beijing has strong and valid reasons to believe Yang was spying for another country, but as usual, China's critics are lashing out at its legal processes without reason. His trial was held out of the public eye because it involved sensitive state secrets. Australia, along with other countries, must respect Chinese courts and stop interfering in its internal affairs. Yang's legal rights have been given all due consideration.

Nerd narrative

There's a 50% chance that the total aggregate score given to China by Freedom House in 2028 will be at least 11.3, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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