China has accused Australia of raiding the homes of Chinese journalists in a “serious political incident”

Chinese diplomats say Chinese intelligence agents have questioned a number of journalists in Chinese media outlets and searched their equipment “in violation of their legitimate rights” – the latest flashpoint in the deteriorating relationship between the two countries.

China’s state media released details of the episode – in late June – after two Australian journalists returned home on Tuesday due to distress. Tough stance with Chinese authorities And a temporary exit ban.

The Chinese Embassy in Canberra posted a link on its website Article in the Global Times – A nationalist state media outlet – an Australian intelligence agency “recently raided the residences of Chinese journalists in Australia, questioned them, confiscated their computers and smartphones, and asked them not to report the incident.”

The arrival of Cheng Lee, an Australian citizen and business journalist for CGDN, the Chinese state broadcaster, has been a clear response to Australia’s concerns about press freedom. He was secretly detained in China in mid-August.

When the Guardian approached Australia to confirm the reported tests, a spokesman for the Australian Defense Intelligence Service said: “As is the practice in the long run, ASEO does not comment on intelligence matters.”

The Chinese embassy issued a statement confirming that it “provided diplomatic support to Chinese journalists in Australia and provided representations with relevant Australian authorities to protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens.”

Earlier, the Global Times claimed that the allegations were “a source close to the matter” and accused Australia of hypocrisy in its calls to uphold press freedom. The article referred to the two countries as a “serious political event” that “poisoned relations” and “revealed the ghost of McCarthyism”.

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Another state media, XinhuaJournalists were interrogated for several hours on June 26 – the same day as the Australian Federal Police, as part of a joint investigation with ASIO. Sydney conducted the home test New South Wales Upper House Labor MP on Foreign Intervention Shaquette Moselman.

Of the third store, China News Service, Said four journalists from three Chinese media outlets in Australia were accused of violating the Foreign Influence Transparency Plan.

That plan, that Launched in late 2018, Individuals or entities are required to register certain activities, such as communications, if taken on behalf of a foreign principal.

The AFP has asked ASIO about any questions about the raids, while further comment has been sought from the Chinese embassy.

The chapter may help explain why China Updated its travel advice in July Australian law enforcement agencies claim to have “arbitrarily searched for Chinese citizens and seized their articles, which would be detrimental to the personal and property security of Chinese citizens in Australia.”

At the time, updated travel advice was considered a direct replacement for Australia Renewing his own advice for China To claim that the authorities are detaining foreigners on the basis of national security and that Australians may be at risk of being arbitrarily detained.

Cheng, an Australian citizen, was arrested last month in Beijing on national security grounds, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday. Australian journalists left the country and returned home.

Bill Birdles of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Michael Smith of the Australian Financial Review leave China on Monday night. China’s government is being investigated by the Ministry of Defense.

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Australian Foreign Minister Marice Payne on Tuesday called it a “very disappointing series of events.”

Labor’s agriculture and resource spokesman Joel Fitzgerald called it the “lowest point of our relationship after Tiananmen Square” and blamed the Australian government.

“During the protection of living Australians China Coming under a cloud, then we know we have a very serious problem in our hands, ”he told Radio 2 CC on Wednesday.

“If relationship issues had been better dealt with by Canberra, I think we would not have seen this very serious growth this week.”

Australian diplomats in Beijing first warned the British last week to leave China. That warning was repeated two days later, prompting ABC to arrange a flight on Thursday.

But, according to the ABC, just before his departure, police officers arrived at Brittles’ apartment around midnight on Wednesday and offered him farewell drinks. He was reportedly barred from leaving the country and will be interviewed in connection with “a national security case.”

Brittles, who was later arranged to be taken away by Australian embassy officials, hid in the embassy in Beijing for the next four days, where he was contacted by Chinese officials and asked for an interview.

After initially refusing to talk to police, he was interviewed by Chinese officials on Sunday, accompanied by Graham Fletcher, China’s ambassador to Australia. The interview progressed after officials agreed he could leave the country if he spoke to them.

Birdles told the ABC on Tuesday that he felt the interviews were acts of harassment against Australian journalists, rather than a fair part of an investigation.

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“It felt very political, it felt like a diplomatic confrontation in a broader Australia-China relationship, more than anything specific about that case,” he said.

At the same time Smith was visited by Chinese police and he took refuge at the Australian Consulate in Shanghai. AFR editors called the matter “regrettable and confusing.”

Experts fear that many foreigners have recently been arrested by Chinese authorities Examples of “hostage diplomacy”.

Relations between Australia and China have been embroiled in a number of issues, including Australia’s early call for an independent international inquiry into the origin and handling of the Kovit – 19 epidemic.

Beijing has taken a series of trade measures, including the imposition of steep tariffs on Australian barley, the suspension of import permits for several red meat processing plants, and the investigation of Australian wine exports.

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Will Smith

About the Author: Will Smith

Alfred Lee covers public and private tech markets from New York. He was previously a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economics and Business Journalism at Columbia University, and prior to that was a reporter at the Los Angeles Business Journal. He has received a Journalist of the Year award from the L.A. Press Club and an investigative reporting award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

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