Australia envoy denied entry to trial in Beijing

Australia's ambassador to China has been denied entry to a court in Beijing where an Australian author faces trial on espionage charges.

Ambassador Graham Fletcher visited the court on Thursday with the intention of observing hearings of the spying case involving the author, Yang Hengjun.

Yang is a former Chinese diplomat and became a writer after obtaining Australian citizenship. He was detained by Chinese intelligence authorities in January 2019 and indicted last October.

Reuters news agency quoted the ambassador as saying that the denial of entry to the court is "deeply regrettable, concerning and unsatisfactory."

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters on Thursday that denying the ambassador access to the trial is completely legitimate. He said Yang's case involves state secrets and the trial is held behind closed doors based on the laws.

Zhao said Australia is unjustly interfering with China's judicial sovereignty and China firmly opposes it.

Relations between China and Australia have been strained especially since Australia called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus outbreak.