Brussels [Belgium], April 3 (ANI): The European Union (EU) has condemned what it called the “harassment” of foreign journalists in China after a BBC correspondent left Beijing citing increasing threats and pressure from the Chinese authorities.
In a statement on Friday, a spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called upon China to abide by its obligations under national and international law and ensure the freedom of speech and press.
John Sudworth, who was based in China for nine years, had left Beijing along with his wife, Yvonne Murray, a reporter for the Irish public broadcaster RTE, and their three young children.
Both Sudworth and Murray have said they will continue to cover China from Taipei.
According to The New York Times, the correspondent Sudworth said on Wednesday that he made the decision after being subjected to intensifying propaganda campaign targeting him and the BBC.
He also cited legal threats as well as the increasing difficulty of doing independent reporting in China without obstruction or harassment.
“This is the latest case of foreign correspondents being driven out of China as a result of continuous harassment and obstruction to their work, coming on top of the expulsion of at least 18 correspondents last year,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
The EU, the spokesperson said, has repeatedly expressed its concerns to the Chinese authorities about the “undue working restrictions imposed on foreign journalists and reported related harassment”.
The departures of Sudworth and Murray are part of a larger recent exodus of foreign journalists from China.
Last year, the Chinese government expelled around 15 correspondents for American news organisations, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.
According to The Foreign Correspondents Club of China (FCCC), 2020 saw the largest expulsion of foreign journalists since the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.
At least 18 journalists were forced to leave, hurried out and their visas were cancelled over national security concerns.
A US media correspondent was reported having to “take three COVID tests over five days” as she attempted to report from Xinjiang, where Chinese state media has routinely claimed the Muslim-minority Uighurs are prospering, not being detained.
The National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA) of China had barred the broadcasting of BBC World News on the mainland last month, claiming that it has done a “slew of falsified” reporting on issues such as human rights violations in Xinjiang based on interviews of victims surviving “re-education camps.” (ANI)