Yang Hengjun
Detained Australian Yang Hengjun. (Image: AP/Zhan min)

The arrest of Chinese-Australian author and democracy promoter Yang Hengjun has triggered an overdue but welcome change in attitude by Canberra towards the fate of Australians effectively kidnapped by Beijing’s authoritarian government.

It’s probably wishful to think that Yang, who was originally detained in January 2019 on spying charges, will be released because of this change. But there is another goal here: making sure that accusations of spying are comprehensively denied at the highest levels in Canberra. In that way Beijing should at least give a second thought to treating any other Australian in such appalling fashion.