The previous two journalists working on the Australian press in China have left the country after authorities demanded interviews together and blocked their departures.
Not having Australian press from China comes through a very low point in both nations’ relations, and also the events that resulted in the journalists’ departures were viewed as”disturbing” signs of a growing threat to foreign journalists working in China.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Bill Birtles and The Australian Financial Review’s Michael Smith landed in Sydney on Tuesday after flying from Shanghai on Monday night, the two news outlets reported.
Both journalists had saturated in Australian diplomatic chemicals lately.
They left later Australia revealed last week that Australian citizen Cheng Lei, a company news anchor to CGTN, China’s English-language country media station, was arrested.
Both journalists have been told that they were”people of interest” within an investigation to Cheng, The Australian Financial Review reported.
Seven uniformed authorities visited every journalist’s house in Beijing and Shanghai in 12:30 a.m. Thursday (1630 GMT Wednesday), ” the paper said.
Birtles said he understood Cheng,” although not particularly well,” and Smith had met once in his lifetime.
“I think the incident was one of harassment of those remaining Australian journalists instead of a real effort to attempt to get anything valuable for this instance,” Birtles advised ABC from his Sydney pandemic quarantine hotel area.
Relations between China and Australia were strained by Australia outlawing covert interference in politics and banning communications giant Huawei from providing critical infrastructure.
They’ve worsened because the Australian authorities called for an independent inquiry into the roots of and global responses to the coronavirus pandemic.