BEIJING: Beijing said journalists who attack China were “not welcome” in the country, after it failed to renew the press credentials of a foreign journalist who wrote an article about one of President Xi Jinping’s cousins.
It amounts to the effective expulsion of Chun Han Wong, a Singaporean national who has worked for the Wall Street Journal’s Beijing bureau since 2014.
In a statement, the foreign ministry said it “strongly opposed some foreign reporters’ malicious smears and attacks on China, and these kinds of journalists are not welcome”.
“In the meantime, we will facilitate foreign reporters who do news coverage in accordance with laws and regulations,” it said.
Wong — together with fellow journalist Philip Wen — published a story in July detailing how Australian law-enforcement and intelligence agencies were probing the activities of Ming Chai, one of Xi’s cousins.
It formed part of a wider investigation into organised crime, money-laundering and alleged Chinese influence-peddling.
“We can confirm that Chinese authorities have declined to renew Chun Han’s press credentials. We continue to look into the matter,” a Dow Jones spokesperson told AFP.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying rejected the allegations at the time the report was published, saying, “I don’t know where these journalists go to dig up this dirt.”
A Wall Street Journal reporter, who did not want to be named, confirmed that Wong’s visa had expired on Friday.
Visa delays, detentions and suspected phone-bugging are among the challenges faced by foreign journalists in China, who say working conditions are getting worse with many reporting being watched and harassed.
“Expulsions of journalists from China amount to an extreme attempt by Chinese authorities to punish news organisations that conduct factual work that does not cast the country or its leadership in a flattering light,” the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC) said in a statement.
“Foreign correspondents are not propaganda workers, and should not be treated as such.”
Beijing bureau chief for BuzzFeed News Megha Rajagopalan was also effectively expelled from China last year after she was unable to renew her visa.
She had reported extensively from the restive northwestern region of Xinjiang prior to her expulsion.
A survey of 109 foreign journalists published in January “painted the darkest picture of reporting conditions inside China in recent memory”, the FCCC said at its release.
The report said many journalists working in China have been threatened with visa delays, or issued with short-stay visas, which they believed were related to their coverage.