onsdag 9. september 2020

Australian journalists flown out of China 'amid diplomatic standoff'

The last two reporters working in China for Australian media have flown home after a five-day diplomatic standoff. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Bill Birtles and the Australian Financial Review's Mike Smith landed in Sydney on Tuesday. Chinese authorities questioned both men before their departure. The ABC reported Birtles was "not asked about his reporting or conduct in China".

Relations between Australia and China have deteriorated in recent years. There had been allegations of Chinese interference in Australian society in the past, but ties worsened after Canberra backed an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China said on Monday a record 17 foreign journalists were expelled from the country in the first half of 2020. Australian foreign minister Marise Payne said consular officials had assisted the pair in returning home.