The BBC’s China correspondent John Sudworth was relocated after he and his team faced intimidation, harassment and threats, the U.K. news outlet announced.
John Sudworth left Beijing, China’s capital city, for Taiwan where he will continue his reporting indefinitely, the BBC announced Wednesday. Sudworth has reported extensively on China’s human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims in the nation’s Xinjiang province.
“John’s reporting has exposed truths the Chinese authorities did not want the world to know,” the BBC said in a statement. (RELATED: China Tightens Grip On Hong Kong, Changes Election Law To Ensure Loyalty)
Chinese law enforcement officers in plainclothes reportedly followed Sudworth into the airport as he and his family departed for Taiwan, according to the BBC. He had spent nine years reporting from China and his wife had been the Beijing correspondent for Ireland news outlet RTE News.
“Abuse of Sudworth and his colleagues at the BBC form part of a larger pattern of harassment and intimidation that obstructs the work of foreign correspondents in China,” the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said in a statement.
Sudworth alleged that Chinese authorities surveilled and threatened legal action against him when he tried to film or report in China, according to the BBC.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said Beijing only became aware of Sudworth’s departure while renewing his press credentials, BBC reported. Chunying said that Sudworth left “without saying goodbye.”
The Global Times, a Chinese state-owned media outlet, reported that Sudworth was hiding in Taiwan after years of “fake news” against China.
The Global Times noted that Sudworth had departed “mainland China” for Taiwan. The Chinese have long maintained that Taiwan belongs to China while western nations led by the U.S. have declared it to be autonomous.
On Monday, a Chinese fighter pilot was told to “turn around and leave immediately” after flying into Taiwan’s southwestern airspace, Newsweek reported. The pilot replied to the warning saying “this is all ours.”
Just a few international news outlets now have a presence in Beijing after the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and others were forced to leave, according to the BBC. The outlets were expelled from China in 2020 in retaliation for former President Donald Trump’s actions against Chinese state-owned media in the U.S., according to Axios.
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