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Australia’s prime minister raises journalist incident with China’s Li

Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has raised with China’s Premier Li Qiang an incident at parliament house where Chinese officials tried to obstruct a journalist previously jailed in Beijing, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said on Tuesday.

Li’s visit to Australia from June 15-18 was the first by a Chinese premier in seven years and marks a stabilisation in ties between the U.S. ally and the world’s second largest economy.

Australian journalist Cheng Lei, who was jailed for three years in Beijing on national security charges until her release in October, was among media covering Li’s visit to Canberra on Monday when Chinese officials stood in front of her to prevent her appearing on camera.

Cheng has said it was likely the Chinese officials did not want her to appear on domestic Chinese news coverage.

The incident dominated Australian media coverage of Li’s Canberra meeting, and became a focus of political debate on Tuesday.

Albanese expressed his concern over the incident directly to Li, Wong said.“Freedom of the press is very important to Australia. So, the Prime Minister has raised the matter with the Chinese Premier,” Wong said in an ABC radio interview.

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“The Prime Minister and I understand the importance of standing up for Cheng Lei, that’s why we worked for two years to secure her return home,” she added.

Earlier, Albanese said in a radio interview that video footage of the incident showed “a pretty clumsy attempt” by the Chinese officials, and noted Australian officials had intervened.

“There should be no impediments to Australian journalists going about their job,” he said.

Read More:Australia’s prime minister raises journalist incident with China’s Li