cheng lei bill birtles michael smith
Journalist Michael Smith, anchor Cheng Lei and journalist Bill Birtles (Images: CGTN; supplied)

Now that it’s become clear China was deliberately targeting Australian journalists as some sort of tit-for-tat in the escalating diplomatic stoush between the two countries, perhaps it’s time to consider some reciprocity.

It’s not just the AFR’s Mike Smith and the ABC’s Bill Birtles who were targeted and driven from the country. The new ABC bureau chief-in-waiting Sarah Ferguson and Nine’s China correspondent-in-waiting Eryk Bagshaw have been cooling their heels for 10 and eight months respectively, awaiting their visas.

The ABC told Crikey last night that it was continuing to pursue a visa for Ferguson but would not comment on how many local Chinese it has working in its Beijing bureau or whether they were still being paid or on leave.