40 years of ABC bureau in China

2013-10-28_1553ABC Chairman James Spigelman and Managing Director Mark Scott will host a special event in Beijing on Thursday to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the ABC bureau in China.

The ABC was one of the first foreign media organisations to establish a presence in China, opened in October 1973.

Paul Raffaele was the first ABC correspondent and began his reporting from room 515 in the Hsin Chiao Hotel, until a permanent office could be found.

ABC Managing Director, Mark Scott said, “The ABC is proud of its long and deep investment in international coverage. This is symbolised by our Beijing bureau: few organisations can boast having a continuous presence in such an important location.

“It demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that Australians are fully apprised of what is happening in the world around them. We look forward to many more decades of coverage from one of the centres of world power.”

ABC held a similar event for the 35th anniversary, as part of a push to get the ABC’s international satellite television service Australia Network into the country.

Since 1973, the ABC has had 20 China Correspondents, based in Beijing, including current journalists, Stephen McDonell and Australia Network’s correspondent, Huey Fern Tay. Former ABC China correspondents include Helene Chung, Ali Moore, Sally Neighbour, Jane Hutcheon, John Shovelan, Eric Campbell and John Taylor. In addition to the Beijing based journalists, there were also ABC correspondents located in Hong Kong from the mid-sixties through to the mid-nineties.

Over the past four decades, ABC journalists reporting from Beijing have brought audiences eye witness accounts of significant events and reported on a country opening up to the world. In recent years Stephen McDonell and the local ABC Beijing team have provided award winning coverage of the devastating Sichuan earthquake, been part of the ABC’s coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics Paralympics, done hundreds of stories, from trekking through deserts in 45 degree heat, to gaining unprecedented access to China’s drug cops.

Coinciding with the 40th anniversary, ABC International has released a free bilingual Mandarin/English mobile phone App which is available for download from the iTunes China App Store and Android App stores. The app showcases the best of Australian life covering the arts, science, business, education and entertainment.


  1. @Stan – AN is actually very widely watched and Radio Australia is listened to, hence the time checks e.g. “…and it’s 5pm in Beijing”, as being FTA DTH there’s no way of preventing this. STAR is encrypted, hence the need for hardware and payments, which have to be “permitted”.
    I earlier referred to “Reuters” re the BBC film. It was Visnews, at that time.
    In Hong Kong AN is available on NOW TV Channel 541, i-Cable TV Channel 153, HK Broadband Network Channel 505, and in Macau.

  2. Jason, I believe all of that is true. ABC’s Australia Network & Radio Australia are banned by mainland China. But Mark Scott & co don’t bang on about it because they’d like to be let in one day. They curry favour with the odd harmless children’s TV co-production with CCTV, but I’m glad it hasn’t affected their reporting on China so far.

  3. @Grantly – The most used photo of the event was taken by Jeff Widener of the Associated Press, from a 6th floor of the Beijing Hotel, about 800m away.
    The TV film was shot by a BBC crew and distributed via Reuters.
    BBC World is not seen on Murdoch’s STAR-TV in China. It was a condition that BBC World be dropped from STAR if STAR was to be allowed in China. Rupert agreed in a flash.
    ABC has “upset Chinese Government” on many occasions, and may they continue to do so.
    The NBC HK Bureau chief who concieved the idea of recording CCTV was captured and killed in Cambodia in 1970.

  4. I think it was ABC footage of the guy stopping the tanks after the tiananmen square massacre. I guess that was left out of Press Release not to upset Chinese Government

  5. Yes, this was long before any Americans could get in. In the 70s NBC Hong Kong staff used to drive a Kombi van over near the border every night to record CCTV News off-air from somewhere in China onto U-matic cassette. How times have changed.
    Reuters July 15, 1981- NBC learned yesterday that it would be allowed to open a news bureau in Peking, making it the first American television network with an office in China.

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