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After nine years as China correspondent, Stephen McDonell farewells the ABC

Posted December 14, 2015 12:25:36

Stephen McDonell on mountain road to Deqin Photo: Stephen McDonell is leaving the ABC right after nine years covering typhoons, earthquakes, financial boons and corruption crackdowns. (ABC News: Robert Hill)
Map: China

China correspondent Stephen McDonell is leaving the ABC, ending nine years of covering earthquakes and financial booms, crackdowns and corruption in a dynamic and building country.

He has also covered Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the Japanese tsunami, the Nepal earthquake and the MH17 crash in East Ukraine.

But in this, his final word as an ABC correspondent, he explains why, when it came to a choice amongst the ABC and Beijing, China was a nation he could not leave behind.

Leaving the ABC in Beijing has been an emotional experience.

For nine years my bureau colleagues and I have climbed mountains, stood up to thugs, crashed a automobile, danced in Tibetan towns, watched tigers devour their prey.

We have traversed massive sand dunes and frozen deserts listened as parents told the story of dragging their dead youngsters from the earthquake rubble and watched as police caught drug mules coming across the border from Burma — all in order to bring China to Australia and the globe.

Cricket match amidst quake aftermath Photo: ABC correspondent Stephen McDonell bowls to Nepalese kids in the course of a game of cricket in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake. (ABC News: Aaron Hollett)

Following what we have been via, the ABC China group are and will usually be my brothers and sisters.

When you are stuck on a frozen mountain on the border with North Korea and the People’s Liberation Army comes to your rescue, it brings you closer.

When you jump walls, hide footage, negotiate road blocks, laugh and cry with each other, your relationships will never ever be the very same.

Stephen McDonell on assignment for Foreign Correspondent Photo: Stephen McDonell on assignment for Foreign Correspondent in 2008. (ABC News: Stephen McDonell)

The staff employed by news organisations around the globe are the unheralded champions of international journalism and getting them is the distinction amongst superficial analysis and starting to realize some thing of the complexities of a place.

The ABC cameramen in Beijing are like producers.

Every one I have worked with has picked up a bit of Mandarin and, far more importantly, an understanding of China.

They know how far to push it and without their information our stories would’ve been not a patch on what we’ve been capable to accomplish.

As for me, it really is with sadness and the excitement of a new challenge that I am leaving the ABC in order to remain in Beijing as a correspondent.

China gets under your skin — it really is an unstoppable juggernaut of adjust, and I just wasn’t prepared to let it go.

China is a story machine: ABC correspondent Stephen McDonell reflects on ten years in ChinaVideo: China is a story machine: ABC correspondent Stephen McDonell reflects on ten years in China (ABC News)

Topics: journalism, world-politics, china

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