Taiwan government confirms BBC China correspondent’s relocation

Taipei-The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) confirmed on Thursday that BBC News China Correspondent John Sudworth has relocated to Taiwan after claiming that he and his team faced threats and intimidation working in China.

"Sudworth is now in Taiwan and is currently in quarantine in accordance with COVID-19 prevention measures," said MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou (???) during a regular press briefing.

Ou said Taiwan, as a free and democratic country, respects press freedom and human rights, and welcomes foreign reporters.

"MOFA will provide assistance to all foreign reporters who wish to undertake coverage here," she said.

According to a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) report on Wednesday, Sudworth, who had worked in China for nine years, moved to Taiwan with his family following "pressure and threats" from the Chinese authorities.

He claimed to have been tailed by plainclothes police officers on his way to the airport, even up to the check-in area.

Sudworth has won awards for his reporting on the treatment of the Uyghur people in the Xinjiang region, the BBC report said.

However, such reports have earned the ire of Beijing, which called them "baseless" and "unfair." In February, China banned BBC World News from broadcasting in the country.

According to the report, Sudworth and his team faced "intensifying attempts to obstruct and harass" them wherever they filmed.

"We have been facing this kind of pressure because of my coverage of subjects of stories that China doesn't want us to cover, at least not in the independent way that we have," he said in a short video clip that came with the report.

In the video, Sudworth said he and his family had to relocate to Taiwan due to the surveillance, threats of legal action, obstruction and intimidation from Chinese authorities.

China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying (???) denied during a press briefing in Beijing on Wednesday that Sudworth was threatened by the Chinese authorities, adding that the lawsuit he could face would have been filed by private people in Xinjiang whose interests were impacted by his "fake news."

A foreign national involved in a civil lawsuit may be barred from leaving China if the court says so, according to the Exit and Entry Administration Law of China.

Sudworth and his wife Yvonne Murray, an Irish reporter in China, became the latest foreign journalists to leave China.

In September 2020, two Australian reporters left the country a few weeks after Cheng Lei (??), an Australian journalist in China was detained on suspicion of "criminal activity endangering China's national security."

According to MOFA data, 126 foreign correspondents from 72 international media outlets currently work in Taiwan.

Among them, 39 foreign correspondents from 21 international media outlets were newly added from January to March 2021, MOFA data showed.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel