China criticises Australia for raiding Chinese journalists’ homes

China criticises Australia for raiding Chinese journalists’ homes

Several Australian Government ministers have praised the way Australian diplomats handled the negotiations and secured permission for both correspondents to leave China.

The incident, involving four Chinese state media journalists, was revealed by China's foreign ministry this week, in the wake of two Australian journalists departing China after questioning by Chinese police.

Birmingham denied suggestions the June raid had provoked retaliation from Beijing, which saw exit bans placed on journalists from the Australian Broadcasting Corp and the Australian Financial Review newspaper in China last week, and the pair seeking consular protection.

AUSTRALIA has been accused of cold-war McCarthyism and attacking press freedom after it emerged that four Chinese journalists had been probed by intelligence services earlier this year.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said Australian security agencies had acted according to the law.

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China has accused the Australian embassy of obstructing law enforcement when it sheltered the two journalists, Bill Birtles and Michael Smith.

But on Thursday night, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Australia's decision to shelter both men on diplomatic premises while the talks progressed was "an interference in China's internal affairs and judicial sovereignty".

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijan hit out at Australia, saying that no reasonable explanation had been given for the raids. The questioning was conducted in relation to the case of Cheng Lei, an Australian journalist now detained in China.

Both men had been quizzed about another Australian citizen - Cheng Lei, who worked as an anchor for Chinese state TV - detained under mysterious "national security" grounds for almost a month. Cheng, a business anchor on the English-language channel CGTN, was detained three weeks ago and is suspected of carrying out illegal activities that endanger China's security.

They said the raids were related to an anti-interference investigation that is still ongoing in Australia. The Australian Foreign Office and Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) have not commented on the issue.

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