‘Miss the Sun, miss my children’: Jailed journalist writes letter from Chinese prison, Australian PM responds

An Australian journalist who was detained in China in August 2020 on charges of espionage has written a letter back home describing her conditions in the Chinese prison. The letter which Cheng Lei calls a “love letter to 25 million people” was dictated to the consular staff during a visit and was released by Lei’s partner, reported Reuters. 

Lei worked a business television anchor for Chinese state television before being arrested in August 2020 for allegedly sharing state secrets with a foreign country. The arrest came had come soon after former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had called for an independent inquiry into the origins of coronavirus and the arrest of Lei was seen as a move by the Chinese regime to put pressure on Australia, reported Bloomberg.

 “I miss the sweet encounters of wildlife in Australia, the seasalt whirling in my ear, the sand between my toes,” the letter by Cheng Lei read. 

“I miss the sun. In my cell, the sunlight shines through the window but I can stand in it for only 10 hours a year,” Lei added. 

The former journalist closed the letter saying, “Most of all I miss my children.”. This is the first public statement by Lei since her arrest in 2020. 

Relations between Australia and China have warmed up since Anthony Albanese-led Labor government was elected to power in 2022. Chinese establishment has removed some of the punitive measures it had earlier introduced and it is speculated that the warmth in bilateral ties could result in Cheng’s possible return to Australia.

Australia PM Albanese could accept an offer to visit China later this year after the country removed restrictions on Australian Barley, reported Reuters. The Australian Prime Minister has also reacted to Cheng’s statement saying her statement was ‘very moving’ and shows her passion for her country of Australia. 

Albanese noted that the timing of his visit is not ‘transactional’ but the issue of Cheng Lei’s detention should be resolved.

“I believe it is clearly the case that Cheng Lei, who now has had three years in detention, this issue should be resolved,” Albanese said

“Visits and engagement and dialogue should not be transactional. Visits and dialogue are something that in themselves are constructive.” PM Albanese was quoted as saying by ABC News Australia.  

(With inputs from agencies) 


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Updated: 12 Aug 2023, 08:47 AM IST

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