It is deeply distressing to learn today that the People’s Republic of China has sentenced Australian citizen Dr Yang Hengjun to a suspended death sentence.

Our thoughts rest first and foremost with Dr Yang and his family who have already suffered through this uncertainty for five long years and now face the daunting prospect of never being reunited.

We acknowledge this decision will have unfathomable impacts upon Dr Yang and his loved ones. We respect their privacy at this time.

Australians will rightly be appalled and outraged at this sentence administered by Chinese authorities.

Dr Yang is an Australian citizen who has been denied basic rights of justice for five years and now faces the horror of a lifetime of unjust detention.

The Coalition supports and expects the Australian Government to respond with appropriate and strong action to this unwarranted and unjustifiable sentence.

Dr Yang must be provided with the necessary medical treatment and regular consular assistance that are his basic rights.

The Albanese Government must defend the rights of Dr Yang and apply the most effective diplomatic steps to ultimately secure his release and return to Australia.

These actions by Chinese authorities are a stark reminder of our different systems of government and justice. They not only hurt Dr Yang and his loved ones but damage people-to-people links by reinforcing and increasing the risk of doing business or engaging with China.

Moments like these should reinforce to all Australians why our values, rights and liberties are so important to defend and protect.