China’s state media condemns raids on Chinese journalists in Australia

Shanghai (Reuters) – China’s state media condemned the raid on the homes of Chinese journalists working in Australia, as relations between the two major trading partners became increasingly tense.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian attended a news conference in Beijing on September 10, 2020.

The China News Service said on Saturday that the raids “grossly violated the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese media reporters stationed in Australia and seriously damaged the physical and mental health of journalists and their families”.

Following that comment from the news agency Xinhua, which said late Friday, the actions by Australian authorities were “absolutely horrific” and damaged relations between the two countries.

China’s state-backed tabloid Global Times reported earlier this week that Australian authorities raided the homes of four Chinese journalists living in the country in June.

“This gross, rude and inappropriate act was completely horrific. A spokesperson for the news agency Xinhua said it fully exposed the Cold War mentality and political bias of some Australian departments and officials.

“They have not only seriously damaged the reputation and image of the Chinese media, but also seriously exchanged people-to-people exchanges between China and Australia,” the spokesman said.

Australia’s Trade Minister responded to the reports on Friday, stating that security agencies acted according to the law.

Relations between the two countries have flared up rapidly on a range of issues, ranging from Australian allegations of Chinese arbitration in domestic affairs to trade disputes and calls for international investigations of the novel Coronovirus by Canberra.

The news of the raid coincided with the exit of two Australian journalists from China.

After China’s state security visited and interrogated their residences in Beijing and Shanghai, the pair returned home with the help of consular officers.

Another Australian citizen, Chinese television anchor Cheng Lei, was detained by Chinese authorities in August.

Reporting by Josh Horwitz; Editing by Kim Coghill