Australian detained in "unacceptable" conditions in China: minister

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The Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs has described as unacceptable the daily interrogation of a Chinese Australian writer chained, suspected of espionage and detained in Beijing since January.

Senator Payne said Dr Yang was being kept in isolation from the outside world, with restrictions on his communications with family and friends, and being subjected to daily interrogation while wearing shackles.

"This is unacceptable", she added.

China's near-silence about Yang's fate has been a point of friction in relations with Australia.

Yang Hengjun, a former Chinese diplomat who became an online journalist and blogger, was formally arrested in August on suspicion of espionage, seven months after he was first arrested in the southern city of Guangzhou.

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Payne said that despite the Australian government making repeated requests to Chinese authorities for Yang to be treated humanely and in line with global norms, there have been no substantive changes to his conditions.

"This has not led to any substantive changes in his treatment", Senator Payne said.

Beijing claims that the detainee's rights have been guaranteed and asked Australia to respect its judicial sovereignty and stop interfering with how it manages its cases.

Yang Hengjun was taken into custody upon arriving in southern China's Guangzhou from NY on January with his wife, Yuan Xiaoliang, and his 14-year-old stepdaughter.

China has a long history of arresting dissidents, some of them while they are residing overseas, to later charge them with various crimes.

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