The journalist, John Sudworth, told BBC radio he moved with his family because it had become increasingly difficult to remain in the country.

Beijing denied making any threats.

The EU said it was the latest case of foreign journalists being driven out of China as a result of harassment and obstruction to their work, with at least 18 expelled last year. It said it had repeatedly expressed its concerns to Chinese authorities.

“Professionalism and objectivity of foreign correspondents is increasingly put into question. Foreign correspondents play an important role in imparting information across frontiers and contributing to strengthening mutual understanding between the EU and China,” a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement.

“The EU calls upon China to abide by its obligations under national and international law and ensure the freedom of speech and press, as enshrined in the PRC’s Constitution and the Universal declaration of human rights.”