China: Statement by the Spokesperson on the departure of BBC’s China correspondent and the presence of foreign journalists in the country


BBC China Correspondent John Sudworth has left the country, together with his wife, RTE China Correspondent Yvonne Murray, and their family.  This departure comes after a long period of harassment of Mr Sudworth and his BBC colleagues by the authorities, comprising surveillance, threats of legal action, obstruction, intimidation and the posting online by official media of videos that personally named him and made use of police video footage.

This is the latest case of foreign correspondents being driven out of China as a result of continuous harassment and obstruction to their work, coming on top of the expulsion of at least 18 correspondents last year.

The EU has repeatedly expressed its concerns to the Chinese authorities at the undue working restrictions imposed on foreign journalists and reported related harassment.  Professionalism and objectivity of foreign correspondents is increasingly put into question.

Foreign correspondents play an important role in imparting information across frontiers and contributing to strengthening mutual understanding between the EU and China.

The European Union will continue to stand up for the role of independent and reliable media all around the world. The EU is committed, in compliance with international human rights law, to safeguarding media freedom and pluralism, as well as protecting the right to freedom of expression online and offline, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information without interference.

The EU calls upon China to abide by its obligations under national and international law and ensure the freedom of speech and press, as enshrined in the PRC’s Constitution and the Universal declaration of human rights.

Nabila Massrali
Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
+32 (0) 2 29 88093
+32 (0) 460 79 52 44