Beijing – An Australian national has been sentenced to death by a Chinese court for drug trafficking, a verdict that could further inflame tensions between Beijing and Canberra.
Already troubled relations worsened recently after China reacted furiously to Australia’s call for an independent probe into the origins of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
The person, named in Chinese pinyin as “Kamu Jielaisibi,” was handed the death penalty by Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court on Wednesday, according to a notice posted on the court website that day.
The notice revealed no details about the defendant besides their Australian nationality.
China is Australia’s largest trading partner, as well as a major source of lucrative international students and tourists.
In an apparent response to the coronavirus probe demand, Beijing imposed tariffs on Australian barley, and issued travel warnings to tourists and students over virus-linked racism against ethnic Asians.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has dismissed allegations of racist treatment of Chinese as “rubbish,” adding that his government would “never be intimidated by threats” or “trade our values in response to coercion from wherever it comes.”
Last year, separately, China sentenced two Canadian nationals to death on drug trafficking charges during an escalating diplomatic row with Canada over the arrest of top Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.
Canadian attempts to plead for clemency for Robert Schellenberg and Fan Wei have so far not been successful.
China has additionally detained two Canadian nationals, including a former diplomat, on spying charges, widely believed to be in retaliation for Meng’s arrest.
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