The outcome for the Australian citizen cannot be viewed separately from the continued downward spiral of Australia-China relations.
There’s a sizeable gap between Western perceptions of the role of journalists in democratic societies and China’s view that media should serve the interests of the state.
With scant details of the reasons for the news anchor’s arrest, the future looks grim for Cheng Lei with Beijing signalling its intent for a full-scale criminal investigation.
As diplomatic relations worsened in recent years, people-to-people ties remained strong. Now, however, it appears even academics and journalists are becoming ‘pawns’ in a great diplomatic tussle.
Covering China has become an increasingly challenging task, but now foreign journalists like Australians Bill Birtles and Mike Smith are being expelled from the country at an alarming rate.