EU condemns prolonged harassment of BBC journalist Sha Lei by the Chinese Communist Party

The European Union on Friday condemned the Communist authorities’ “prolonged harassment” of a BBC journalist, Sha Lei, who has been threatened by Beijing with “expulsion” from the country.

John Sudworth, who moved to Taiwan with his wife Yvonne Murray, was previously the BBC’s resident China correspondent and his wife was the resident China correspondent for Irish public broadcaster RTE, according to an AFP report from Brussels today. The harassment of Sha Lei by the Chinese Communist authorities is related to his reporting on the encounters of Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region.

According to European foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell, this fate of BBC journalist Sha Lei is the latest example of China’s expulsion of at least 18 journalists last year, as the Chinese Communist authorities continue to harass and obstruct the work of foreign journalists in China. According to her explanation, “His departure follows a long period of harassment by the authorities, including surveillance, threats of legal action, obstruction, intimidation and the release of official media footage of himself and the use of police surveillance.”

According to European foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell in a statement, “The EU has repeatedly expressed its concern to the Chinese Communist authorities about the excessive work restrictions imposed on foreign journalists and the harassment to which they are subjected.” She noted that Brussels therefore calls on the Chinese Communist Party to respect its obligations under national and international law as contained in the Chinese Constitution (People’s Republic of China) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and to guarantee freedom of expression and freedom of the press.”

The EU said it is “determined to preserve media freedom and pluralism and to protect the right to freedom of expression online and offline, including freedom of opinion and the right to receive and impart information freely without interference.”

According to the report, relations between the EU and China became tense in March following the European Union’s decision to approve sanctions against a crackdown on Uighur Muslims in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang.

Beijing retaliated by issuing entry bans against 10 EU individuals, including some elected European Parliament officials, with the Chinese Communist Party accusing the allegations about the Uighur situation of “spreading lies. Several European Union member states summoned the Chinese ambassador to express their displeasure and protest.