An Australian has been sentenced to death in China for drug trafficking, in a ruling that could further inflame tensions between Beijing and Canberra.
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that it was “deeply saddened” by the verdict and reiterated the country’s opposition to capital punishment.
The man, identified by Australian media as Cam Gillespie, was on Wednesday handed the death penalty by the Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court, a notice posted on the court Web site said.
The notice revealed no details about the defendant besides his Australian nationality.
Local Chinese media said that the man was arrested at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in December 2013 with more than 7.5kg of methamphetamine in his checked luggage.
An Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said that consular assistance was being provided to the man, but they would not confirm his identity, citing privacy obligations.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the verdict made in his case,” the spokesperson said, adding that Australia “opposes the death penalty, in all circumstances for all people.”
“We support the universal abolition of the death penalty and are committed to pursuing this goal through all the avenues available to us,” they said.
China is Australia’s largest trading partner, as well as a major source of international students and tourists.
However, relations have been troubled in the past few years and worsened after China reacted furiously to Australia’s call for an independent probe into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beijing subsequently imposed tariffs on Australian barley and issued travel warnings to tourists and students over virus-linked racism against ethnic Asians in the country.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison dismissed the allegations of racist treatment of Chinese as “rubbish.”
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