Australian travellers should be warned about the dangers of going to China after an Australian writer was detained in Beijing and charged with spying, a Labor MP says.
Australian-Chinese man Yang Hengjun has been charged with espionage for "endangering China's national security" and engaging in "criminal activities".
Federal Labor MP Michael Danby says Australia should announce a travel warning for China, matching a similar rise in caution in the United States.
"What happens if you're like me, you've been critical of China? Can I fly there? Will they pull you off a plane?" Mr Danby told AAP on Friday.
"What about the members and staff of (ABC show) Four Corners? Are they in jeopardy?"
China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying confirmed the novelist and online commentator was under investigation.
"According to our understanding, the Australian national Yang Hengjun was suspected of engaging in criminal activities endangering China's national security," Hua said in a briefing on Thursday.
"At present, the case is being handled according to law, and Yang Hengjun's legitimate rights and interests have been fully guaranteed."
Liberal MP and parliamentary intelligence committee chair Andrew Hastie warned the detention and charges could be an attempt to keep Chinese-Australians in line.
"It is possible that his arbitrary detention was designed to deter members of the Australian Chinese diaspora from talking openly and honestly about political questions near to their hearts," he told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
Defence Minister Christopher Pyne asked Chinese Defence General Wei Fenghe in a meeting in Beijing on Thursday to ensure Dr Yang is treated fairly, transparently and gets access to consular assistance.
"General Wei assured that, while he was not personally aware of the case, Mr Yang would be treated well and that the general would seek further information," a spokesman for the minister said.
Law Council president Arthur Moses SC said the use of extended pre-trial or pre-charge detention was an affront to the rule of law, and was particularly concerning given reports Mr Yang had been denied access to legal counsel and Australian embassy officials.
"This type of conduct by a foreign government towards an Australian citizen cannot and should not be tolerated," Mr Moses said.
An Australia-China consular agreement requires either government be told within three days if one of their citizens is detained.
Chinese authorities took four days before alerting Canberra.
Mr Danby said Dr Yang's Chinese heritage didn't mean Australia should be quiet about his arrest.
"If they're an Australian citizen they deserve an equal defence as all of the rest of the citizens of Australia do," he said.
Dr Yang, 53, had been living in New York as a visiting scholar at Columbia University, before leaving on January 18 for Guangzhou.
He was prevented from boarding his connecting flight to Shanghai with his wife and daughter, and is said to be under "residential surveillance", which is similar to home detention.
Consulate staff from the Australian embassy in Beijing visited Dr Yang on Friday afternoon, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement.
Due to privacy obligations, the department said it was unable to provide details about the visit.
Australian Associated Press