The Chinese Embassy in Ireland responded to reports of an Irish journalist fleeing China with her family for safety with a bizarre thread of tweets. 
RTÉ journalist Yvonne Murray spoke yesterday of how she had to flee China with her children over sinister threats to her husband. 
The couple moved to Taiwan after what was described as constant surveillance of Mr Sudworth by Chinese police, threats of legal action, official obstruction and increasing levels of intimidation.
Mr Sudworth has won numerous awards for his coverage of controversial issues in China, including the treatment of the Uyghur people in Xinjiang and cotton produced by forced labour.
His coverage sparked a major backlash by the Chinese authorities. China also hit out at major western firms, including Nike and H&M, over the cotton issue.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio Ones News at One yesterday, Ms Murray said; We left in a hurry last week and it was really because the pressure and threats from the Chinese government became too much.
Responding to the story last night on Twitter, the Chinese Embassy of Ireland said nobody forced Ms Murray to leave. 
They added; Sensationalist presentation sells paper but won’t for too long.
The thread, on the official embassy account, read; “She “took the decision to leave”, according to her own words. Leave or come back?—-it’s up to her. Nobody has forced or will force her. Sensationalist presentation sells paper but won’t for too long.
“Her husband, a BBC correspondent in China, has been strongly criticized by a lot of Chinese for his unfair, unobjective and biased reporting on China and some people and entities in Xinjiang, China are considering suing him for the serious harm his reporting has caused on them.
Journalists may feel that they should have the right to say whatever they like. After all……”
They posted a link to a webpage on which detailed the Defamation Act 2009 and wrote; [This] may help to understand why BBC’s reporting on China has been under strong criticism.
They also quoted the Irish Constitution, writing; Article 40.6.1.i of the Irish Constitution says that the State guarantees the right of citizens to express freely their convictions and opinions. But the right of freedom of expression in Ireland is not absolute.
“Article 10 (2) subjects this freedom to such restrictions as are necessary….in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety,
The embassy also posted an image of Aesops Fables, writing; Who is the wolf?
Some people accused China for so-called “wolf warrior diplomacy”. In his well-known fable, Aesop described how the Wolf accused the Lamb of committing offences.
The wolf is the wolf, not the lamb. BTW, China is not a lamb.
Ms Murray and her husband Mr Sudworth are now in Taiwan. 
Ms Murray said; On the morning of our departure there were actually plainclothes police outside our home watching us and our children load our suitcases into a taxi.
Then we were followed all the way to the airport, watched by the secret police in the check-in area this was very frightening for the children and it definitely confirmed to us we were making the right decision.
She continued; We are now in Taipei, holed up in a quarantine hotel for 14 days.Then we plan to continue to report on China and the wider region from here.
There are already some foreign correspondents based in Taipei now, following a round of expulsions from mainland China last year  mainly US journalists.
But there are others who left China during the pandemic and are trying to get back in, but China has cancelled the journalists visas and they cannot get back in and are staying in Taipei.
Our experience here speaks to the wider situation in China for foreign journalists  conditions have deteriorated rapidly in recent years. The space for reporting in the country is ever shrinking, as is the pool of foreign correspondents there.
There are very few US journalists left and no Australian journalists. Now, because I have gone, there are no Irish journalists left.
It has been very tough to leave. Two of our three children were born in China and they all speak fluent Chinese.
For them it is home, and it was particularly distressing for them facing the reality that they might never be able to go back to the place where they were born so long as the Chinese state is so determined to target and punish journalists for simply doing their job.
The Chinese Government tells us that our reporting suggests that we hate China – that is not the case. We would not have stayed so long if we did not like China – it is an extraordinarily colourful, vibrant and culturally rich country.
In terms of the memories and the friendships we forged with Chinese people over the years, they cannot be taken from us. As the secret police followed us as we left, it is a sad memory but it cannot erase all the other happy memories we have from China.
The BBC insisted it was very proud of Mr Sudworth and his reporting and confirmed he remains its China correspondent.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said the authorities had not been given prior notice.
Only in recent days when we were faced with the task of renewing Sudworths press card did we learn that Sudworth left without saying goodbye. After he left the country, he didnt by any means inform the relevant departments nor provide any reason why, Hua Chunying told a news conference in Beijing.
The BBC said: Johns reporting has exposed truths the Chinese authorities did not want the world to know.Last year China expelled correspondents for The New York Times, TheWashington Post and The Wall Street Journal, among others.And in September 2020, the last two reporters working in China for Australian media flew home after a five-day diplomatic standoff.
The Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC) of China says foreign journalists are being caught up in diplomatic rows out of their control.
Abuse of Sudworth and his colleagues at the BBC forms part of a larger pattern of harassment and intimidation that obstructs the work of foreign correspondents in China and exposes their Chinese news assistants to growing pressure, the FCC warned on Twitter.
Online Editors

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