Two of Australia's leading foreign correspondents in China have rushed home for their own safety after they were questioned separately by China's Ministry of State security, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported on Tuesday.
China correspondents for the ABC and the Australian Financial Review (AFR) sought shelter in Australia's embassy in Beijing and consulate in Shanghai as diplomats negotiated with Chinese officials to allow them to leave the country, the ABC and the AFR reported.
The two journalists - ABC's Bill Birtles and AFR's Michael Smith - had been banned from leaving China until they answered questions about detained Australian citizen and television anchor Cheng Lei, AFR said in a report.
Birtles told reporters at Sydney airport it was very disappointing to have to leave China under "those circumstances."
"But this was a whirlwind and it was not a particularly good experience," he said.
The ABC said it brought Birtles back to Australia following advice from the Australian government.