By Cate Cadell and Tony Munroe
BEIJING (Reuters) -The British Broadcasting Corp stated on Wednesday one in all its journalists in China had relocated to Taiwan, a transfer that comes amid criticism from Beijing of its studies on alleged human rights abuses towards Uighur Muslims within the Xinjiang area.
The journalist, John Sudworth, advised BBC radio he moved together with his household as a result of it had change into more and more troublesome to stay within the nation. He had been below surveillance, confronted threats of authorized motion, obstruction and intimidation, he stated.
“We left in a rush, adopted by plainclothes police all the best way to the airport by way of the check-in. The true grim actuality for reporters right here being made clear all the best way to the very finish,” he advised the BBC present that was aired on Wednesday.
China’s overseas ministry on Wednesday stated Sudworth had not given any discover of his departure, and it strongly condemned the BBC’s reporting on Xinjiang, COVID-19 and Hong Kong.
“We by no means threatened him,” overseas ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying advised a daily day by day information briefing. “We do not know why he left as a result of he did not say goodbye.”
Asserting Sudworth’s transfer, the BBC stated in an announcement that he remained its China correspondent.
“John’s work has uncovered fact the Chinese language authorities didn’t need the world to know,” it stated.
Final month, China barred the BBC World Information from being aired in response to what the Chinese language embassy in London known as “relentless fabrication of ‘lies of the century’ in reporting China.”
One flashpoint was a BBC report in February that girls in Xinjiang’s internment camps for Uighurs had been topic to rape, sexual abuse and torture.
China has repeatedly stated the BBC’s report was false and it has additionally forcefully denied different claims of human rights abuses in Xinjiang raised by western governments and rights teams.
Sudworth was not one of many BBC journalists credited within the Xinjiang report, although he has been criticised by title by the Chinese language overseas ministry in addition to Chinese language state and Communist Celebration-backed media for his reporting.
Chinese language state media not too long ago reported that unnamed individuals and entities in Xinjiang had been making ready to sue the BBC over studies associated to the area. The state media studies didn’t embrace particulars of a go well with and no corresponding notices had been made public on native courtroom websites.
“I feel these persons are attempting to guard their very own rights and pursuits by way of authorized means, however such acts don’t have anything to do with the Chinese language authorities,” spokeswoman Hua stated.
The Overseas Correspondents’ Membership of China stated that Sudworth had left at brief discover on March 23 together with his spouse Yvonne Murray, a journalist for Irish broadcaster RTE.
It stated Sudworth had spent the previous two years on visas of one-, three- and six-month durations – shorter than the standard one-year for overseas correspondents.
“Abuse of Sudworth and his colleagues on the BBC type half of a bigger sample of harassment and intimidation that obstructs the work of overseas correspondents in China and exposes their Chinese language information assistants to rising strain,” an FCCC assertion stated.
“We urge China to reside as much as its acknowledged dedication to facilitate unhindered reporting in China. Particularly the FCCC requires an finish to harmful, private assaults on particular person reporters and overseas media shops.”
China expelled greater than a dozen overseas journalists working for U.S. media organisations in 2020. That 12 months noticed a “speedy decline in media freedom”, the FCCC stated in a report this month.
A number of overseas correspondents have relocated to Taiwan from China. A overseas ministry spokeswoman in Taiwan stated she couldn’t touch upon particular person instances however stated: “We welcome all reporters from media shops to come back to Taiwan and luxuriate in freedom of the press and speech.”
(Reporting by Tony Munroe and Cate Cadell in Beijing, Se Younger Lee in Washington; further reporting by Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Modifying by Neil Fullick)