China detains Australian anchor working in state broadcaster

China detained an Australian citizen working as a high-profile TV anchor, as relations between the two countries deteriorate.

Australia’s foreign ministry said Cheng Lei, an anchor for state broadcaster CGTN, was detained two weeks ago.

Foreign minister Marise Payne said a virtual consular visit had been held with Ms Cheng via video link.

Ms Cheng is being held under “residential surveillance at a designated location”, according to ABC News. Investigators can question and imprison a suspect for up to six months without charge.

Australia’s foreign ministry was given notification of her detention on 14 August.

Ms Cheng has two young children in Australia.

Ms Cheng has worked for CGTN for eight years and presented a show on global business for the network. Previously, she was CNBC Asia’s China correspondent.

After her detention, Ms Cheng’s profile on CGTN’s website was removed along with several of her articles.

Australia’s government warned its citizens in July that they were at increased risk of detention in China.

Tensions between the two nations have escalated in recent months, after Australia led calls for an official investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic in China.

Earlier, China has re-launched an investigation into imports of Australian wine. Prior to this Australia’s federal government said it planned to enact legislation which would allow it to cancel local government deals with foreign countries – a move widely seen as aimed at China.