The last two journalists working for the Australian media have left China

The Australian government and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation said on Tuesday that the last two journalists working for the Australian media in China had left the country after demanding an interview with police.

The last two journalists working for the Australian media have left China

According to ABC, ABC's Bill Birtles and Australian Financial Review's Michael Smith arrived in Sydney on Monday night after flying from Shanghai.

The two had recently taken refuge in Australian diplomatic compounds.

According to ABC, Chinese police arrived at Birtles' doorstep last week, demanding his release for questioning and saying he was barred’ from leaving the country.

If Birtles spoke to police, Australian and Chinese officials would have lifted the travel ban.

The journalists left Australia last week after the revelation that Cheng Lei, an Australian citizen and business news anchor for China's English-language state-run media channel CGTN had been, detained.

Foreign Minister Maris Payne confirmed that her government had provided consular assistance to help the two journalists return to Australia.

"Our embassy in Beijing and the consul general in Shanghai engaged with Chinese government officials to ensure their well-being and return to Australia," he said.

He added that Australia's travel warning about the risk of arbitrary detention in China was "appropriate and unchanged."

Gwyn Morris, the new director of ABC, said that Birtles was brought’ back to Australia on the advice of the Australian government.

"This bureau is an important part of ABC's international news gathering efforts and our goal is to get there as soon as possible," Morris said.

He added: "The story of China, its relationship with Australia and its role in our region and in the world is of great importance to all Australians and we are on the ground to cover our people. Want to keep

Relations between China and Australia have already been strained by a ban on clandestine interference in Australian politics and a ban on the supply of critical infrastructure to communications giant Huawei. They have worsened since the Australian government called for an independent inquiry into the coronavirus epidemic and its international response.

Birtles told reporters at Sydney Airport that his departure was a "storm and ... not a particularly good experience."

"It's very disappointing to be leaving in these circumstances, and it's very comforting to be back in a country where real rule of law prevails," Birtles said.

Smith said he felt a "slight" threat in China at the airport.

"It's great to be home, I'm so happy, I can't say anything more at the moment, it's so comfortable to be home, I'm so happy," Smith said.

"It was a complicated experience but it's a pleasure to be here," he added.


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