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Chinese-Australian novelist and former diplomat Yang Hengjun. Photo: Yang Hengjun/Twitter

The Australian government said in a statement Tuesday it's "very concerned" that Chinese-Australian writer Yang Hengjun has been formally arrested on espionage charges in China after being in detention for months.

Why it matters: The arrest of the New York-based writer comes at a tense time between Australia and China after the U.S. pressed Australia to take a stronger stance against Beijing, per the New York Times, which notes that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on a recent trip to Sydney that China’s increasingly aggressive behavior worldwide required greater attention and pushback.

Dr Yang has been held in Beijing in harsh conditions without charge for more than seven months. Since that time, China has not explained the reasons for Dr Yang's detention."
— Statement by Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne

The big picture: Before his detention, the novelist and former Chinese diplomat spent 2 years with his family in New York, where he was a visiting scholar at Columbia University, according to NYT. He traveled to China in January with his wife, Yuan Ruijuan, and her child, where he was detained at the airport in Guangzhou, per the BBC.

  • He was active on Chinese social media and Twitter, where he had about 130,000 followers and was known as "the democracy peddler," though he had not been directly critical of Chinese authorities in recent years, the BBC notes.
  • Yang has been arrested because of his "political beliefs" and should be released, Payne said in the statement.

Go deeper

Fed signals it could yank economic support quicker as inflation sticks around

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell testifies during a hearing before Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee today. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve will consider pulling back economic support sooner "as the threat of persistently high inflation has grown," chair Jerome Powell said during a congressional hearing on Tuesday.

Why it matters: This is the biggest signal yet the Fed is backing away from its stance that soaring prices would be fleeting — a change that could shift its policies that underpin the economy.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Updated 3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Crypto meets the real world

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

The two largest countries in the world seem intent on effectively banning their citizens from participating in crypto, which poses a serious threat to the crypto agenda.

Why it matters: The crypto world is global — but the real world is fragmented into nation-states, each of which claims control of what happens within its borders.

Meadows cooperating with House Jan. 6 select committee

Mark Meadows. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is cooperating with the House select committee in charge of investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, the panel said Tuesday.

Driving the news: Meadows, who failed to appear before the panel earlier this month, is believed to have insight into former President Trump's role in efforts to stop the certification of President Biden's election win.

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