Timeline: Journalists Caught In Australia-China Diplomatic Tussle

Timeline: Journalists Caught In Australia-China Diplomatic Tussle

However, Chinese media today claim "personnel from the Australian National Intelligence Agency" conducted dawn "raids" on June 26 and told reporters to keep quiet on the search.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Australian officials cited a possible violation of the country's foreign interference laws for their raids in June, but had not provided a "reasonable explanation" for the searches.

The background: The spokesman confirmed multiple Chinese media reports on Tuesday regarding the raids, which came after two China-based Australian journalists, working for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Australian Financial Review, said they were questioned by Chinese state security about their relations with another Australian journalist, Cheng Lei.

The article said that in the past 20 years, "Australia has passed more than 60 rules restricting "press freedom".

Relations between the two countries soured after an Australian journalist for CCTV was detained in China last month.

Australian intelligence and police officers raided the home and office of Mr Moselmane that day as part of a months-long investigation into covert Chinese influence campaigns in Australia.

'I would like to stress that the journalists of the Chinese media in Australia have strictly observed local laws and regulations, ' he said.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) also declined to comment on the Xinhua report.

The group "concealed from or failed to disclose to Mr Moselmane that they were acting on behalf of or in collaboration with Chinese State and Party apparatus", documents lodged with Australia's High Court allege. The ABC reporter informed Australian diplomats in China and was brought to the Australian Embassy in Beijing until his flight earlier this week.

The Chinese embassy in Canberra said it had provided consular support to the journalists, in response to a question about the raids.

"During the protection of living Australians China Coming under a cloud, then we know we have a very serious problem in our hands, "he told Radio 2 CC on Wednesday". Canberra accuses Beijing of espionage, unfair business practices, violating worldwide rules in the South China Sea and cracking down on dissent in Hong Kong.

ABC's news director Gaven Morris said Mr Birtles was brought back to Australia on the Australian government's advice - but said the company would try to get a correspondent back into China to resume reporting duties.

They were allowed to leave the country only after days of diplomatic wrangling and an agreement that they would undergo questioning before departure.

Australia has revoked the visas of two visiting Chinese academics in an apparent escalation of tension between the countries, which has seen each accuse the other of inappropriate treatment of journalists.

China is Australia's biggest export market, but that has not deterred Canberra's outspoken approach to sensitive issues ranging from human rights in the northwestern region of Xinjiang to questions over China´s role in Australia's 5G network.

Beijing was particularly infuriated by Australia's role in global calls for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, which emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The media are only the latest sector to get swept up in the fight, after China curbed or launched trade actions against imports of Australian beef, wine and barley.

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