(Bloomberg) — Two Australian journalists based in China have fled the country as diplomatic relations between the trading partners worsen.
Bill Birtles, the Australian Broadcasting Corp.’s Beijing correspondent, and Mike Smith, the Australian Financial Review’s Shanghai correspondent, left the country after Chinese police demanded interviews with them, according to Smith. The men were initially banned from leaving and spent five days under consular protection until Australian diplomats could negotiate their departure.
“It’s clearly political,” Smith said Tuesday from Sydney. “It’s quite unprecedented to put an exit ban on foreign journalists in China.”
“Australia-China relations have really hit rock-bottom, so we’re unsure whether they were trying to send a message to Australia, to try and intimidate Australia more,” he said.
Their departure comes a week after Australia revealed that Cheng Lei, a Chinese-born Australian citizen who worked as an anchor at a Chinese government-run English-language news channel, had been detained by authorities.
Australia’s relationship with its largest trading partner has worsened since Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government in April called for an independent inquiry into the source of the coronavirus pandemic. China has subsequently imposed tariffs on barley, blocked some beef exports, begun anti-dumping probes into the wine industry and warned its citizens to avoid holidaying or studying in Australia.
Smith and Birtles were the last accredited reporters for Australian media based in mainland China. There are still other Australian citizens working as journalists in China for American, British and other media companies.
Smith said he was first cautioned last week by Australian diplomats that he should leave the country. Birtles also received the same advice, the ABC reported.
Ministry of State Security officers came to their homes after midnight on Wednesday and informed them that they were “persons of interest” in an investigation and couldn’t leave China, according to Smith. The experience of being surrounded in his home and filmed by police as they read out a statement was “a bit of a shock and quite intimidating,” he said.
They were eventually allowed to leave the country after agreeing to an interview with police while under consular protection. Smith said officials asked about Cheng Lei, among other questions, and described the hour-long interview as “pretty benign” and “polite.”
Foreign Minister Marise Payne confirmed the government had provided consular assistance and “engaged with Chinese government authorities to ensure their wellbeing and return.”
“The Australian government continues to provide consular support to Australian citizens detained in China, including Ms. Cheng Lei,” Payne said in a statement.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn’t respond to a request for comment on the two journalists. The union representing journalists in Australia issued a statement condemning the treatment of the two men and the “secret detention” of Lei.
The Australian journalists are not alone in being caught up in diplomatic tensions. Beijing authorities have delayed renewing the press credentials of some journalists working for American media outlets, in response to the Trump administration limiting visa terms for Chinese reporters in the U.S.
Australia’s publicly funded national broadcaster, the ABC, opened its Beijing bureau in 1973 after the countries normalized relations. Other Australians have had their requests for journalist visas refused in recent months.
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Joe Biden keeps a tight lid on mainstream media – Boston Herald
Why is Joe Biden always putting a “lid” on his campaign? If you’re not familiar with the press lingo, a “lid” is a note to your press pool that you plan no further public events on your schedule. Biden tends to put a “lid” on it at 9 or 10 in the morning, saying his press corps has nothing to cover.
On Sept. 23, they called a “lid” at 9:30 a.m. — the ninth time they’ve done it this month. Is it due to never-ending debate prep? Biden denied that, saying he’s just getting ready to prepare.
Since March, Biden has barely done any campaigning, trying to make a virtue out of the fact that he’s not going anywhere or saying much of anything during the coronavirus pandemic. Biden’s staff would claim that while Trump endangers his voters by having rallies, their candidate is leading by example.
He’s not leading by example. He’s lidding by example.
Guess what? The liberal media, those energetic watchdogs who bombastically claim to keep democracy from “dying in darkness,” don’t care one whit. I popped into the Nexis search engine to find out how many times Brian Stelter’s Army at CNN has raged against Biden’s “lid.” In the last month, there are two scripts that contain the words “Biden” and “lid.” Neither was about a Biden story.
One was CNN’s White House shrieker Jim Acosta still obsessing over the Lafayette Square protesters cleared out on June 1 so President Trump could strike a pose in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church. Apparently, someone in the military wanted to use a heat ray on protesters, but it was never used. How this nonstarter is “news” is anyone’s guess.
Acosta used the L-word as he told Don Lemon: “I don’t think this is the last we’ve heard from this whistleblower. He is, I mean, he is doing something patriotic here, Don. He is blowing the lid off of our government using what are some pretty ridiculous tactics, harsh and un-American tactics on our fellow citizens.”
Actually, no — these tactics were not used.
ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS? Is there something wrong with the search engine? These networks all send cage fighters into the Trump and McEnany briefings, but they’re docile little lambs on the “lid.”
The Washington Post? No stories with “Biden” and “lid,” and media specialists like Erik Wemple and Paul Farhi haven’t touched it. USA Today had nothing.
What about NPR? Nope, media reporter David Folkenflik was napping like a Biden, although one weekend anchor promised “breaking news on the canning lid shortage.”
The New York Times? “Biden” and “lid” drew no stories. At least Mark Leibovich of the Times reported on Sept. 22 describing Biden’s “tightly restricted bubble,” that his “pandemic-era campaign appearances can resemble the pandemic-era NFL — quiet, eerie and almost entirely fan-free.” He noted pro-Trump protesters hold signs saying “Hidin’ Biden.” But the story was loaded with Biden fans supporting his, er, restraint.
It’s not like Biden’s press corps is known for asking him the tough questions. On Sept. 23, he traveled to North Carolina, and reporters asked him softballs like, “What gives you the sense that you can win?”
Let’s bet that if Biden loses, all this extremely cooperative behavior will be upended. The media will complain that Biden was a bad candidate who didn’t campaign and venture outside the bubble enough. As usual, they’ll assign exactly zero blame to their own pusillanimous silence.
Tim Graham is a syndicated columnist.
Minister sees strengths in BBC critics eyed for top UK media jobs – TheChronicleHerald.ca
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s culture minister said on Sunday that two prominent critics of the BBC who have reportedly been offered important roles in the British media had “strengths”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has asked Charles Moore, a former editor of the Daily Telegraph, to become the chairman of the BBC and wants Paul Dacre, a former editor of the Daily Mail, to be chairman of media regulator Ofcom, according to The Sunday Times.
Culture minister Oliver Dowden said the process for the appointment of both roles would be launched soon and that the government was seeking “strong, credible” people and a chair of the BBC who could hold it to account.
“There are strengths to both Charles Moore and to Paul Dacre,” he told Sky News.
(Reporting by Costas Pitas; Reporting by Andrew Heavens)
Sania Mirza on social media toxicity: Everybody has an opinion about everything and feels the urge to… – Hindustan Times
Like many others in the public domain, Sania Mirza too feels social media toxicity has reached an unusual high. The tennis ace feels that people are expressing their anger and frustration in the space. And no matter how much ones tries to avoid this negative environment, it does get on people, something Mirza herself have experienced.
“We’re living in difficult times and I honestly think that a lot of people are frustrated. And somehow that is coming out on social media and you can see how much it has erupted. There’s a lot more hate in the last few months on social media than it was before. Everybody has an opinion about everything and they somehow think that they need to put it out on social media every single time, which should not be the case in my opinion,” she says.
With no intention of passing any judgment, Mirza adds that every individual has their own way of dealing with things. Though it’s important to have a dignified stand when it comes to expression, according to her, most of these people do not realise that expressing opinions, discussions are fine but passing judgment and all the threats and abuses aren’t.
“The last few months, things haven’t been easy and it has affected us real hard. People are going through a lot and may be, unknowingly, have become hateful towards others. And everyone is forming an opinion about almost everything, right or wrong,” she adds.
Highlighting the “great ups” of social media, Mirza agrees that there are lot of cons too that have come out in the fore more now, turning the otherwise valuable space “pretty toxic”. And she has her way of dealing with it.
“I do take a break from social media every now and then and don’t really indulge in it every single day. To be honest, I never read the ‘mentions’ because I think that mental sanity is important than anything else. I laugh at it most of the time but there are days when it does get to you, so I kind of cut off from it. You’ve to take social media with a pinch of salt. Good or bad, you can’t take it too seriously,” she explains.
Spending time with family is what keeps Mirza’s heart and mind off this negativity. The 33-year-old, had earlier spoken about how difficult it is for her and son Izhaan to stay away from husband and cricketer Shoaib Malik for over six months due to the pandemic. Finally, along with her son, sister Anam Mirza and brother-in-law Mohammad Asaduddin, she flew down to Dubai recently.
“It was obviously very tough and it wasn’t really something that was in our control. We had to deal with the circumstances… It was great to see Shoaib after so long, not just for myself but also for Izhaan. I think Izhaan is very excited to spend time with his dad. I thought he would take a little time but actually he went to him straight away. Surprisingly, he remembered him and all the little things he used to do with him. I guess that’s what a father and a son relationship is all about,” she says adding, she will be coming back to India soon.
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