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EU condemns ‘harassment’ of foreign media in China

The European Union on Friday condemned the “harassment” of foreign journalists in China after a BBC correspondent left the country in the face of legal threats and pressure from authorities.

John Sudworth said he had quit China for Taiwan — along with his journalist wife — after a “full-on propaganda attack” from the authorities due to his reporting on Xinjiang rights abuses and the pandemic.

“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,” a spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.

“The EU has repeatedly expressed its concerns to the Chinese authorities at the undue working restrictions imposed on foreign journalists and reported related harassment.”

“Foreign correspondents play an important role in imparting information across frontiers and contributing to strengthening mutual understanding between the EU and China.”

Tight control

Press freedom groups say the space for reporters to operate in China is tightly controlled, with journalists followed on the streets, suffering harassment online and refused visas.

At least 18 foreign correspondents were expelled by China last year, during a tit-for-tat row with the U.S. that decimated the international press presence in the country.

Chinese state media and officials repeatedly attacked Mr. Sudworth for his reporting on alleged forced labour practices targeting Uighur Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, cotton industry in particular.

A spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry accused the BBC of spreading “fake news with strong ideological bias”.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 2:33:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/eu-condemns-harassment-of-foreign-media-in-china/article34226064.ece

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