Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is alarmed by reports that a foreign
correspondent was expelled by Chinese authorities without formal explanation on
Monday May 7, 2012.
Melissa Chan, a correspondent
for Al-Jazeera English and board member of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of
China (FCCC), had been reporting sensitive cases of human rights violations in
China since 2008.
According to a statement
by the FCCC, Chinese officials had expressed anger at a documentary about the
use of prison labour, which was aired on Al-Jazeera in November 2011. The
report states that Chan was not involved in the production of the documentary. The
statement also alleges that Chinese authorities have expressed unhappiness with
the general editorial content of Al Jazeera English and have accused Chan of
violating unspecified rules and regulations.
Peter Ford, Vice President
of FCCC, has said that Chinese authorities did not present any evidence to
prove the allegations, nor was an official explanation given for their action.
According to the New
York Times, on the same day the Al-Jazeera satellite broadcasting network
was forced by the Chinese authorities to close the Chinese news operations of
its English-language channel.
Chan is the first foreign
correspondents expelled from China since October 1998, when Japanese journalist
Yukihisa Nakatsu was expelled, allegedly in retaliation for critical reporting
“This is not the first
case of foreign correspondents being confronted with deliberate obstacles to
them working in China. At least two foreign correspondents had their press
cards confiscated while covering the recent escape of Chinese activist Chen
Guangcheng. Regulations on reporting by foreign journalists are also
frequently changed to prevent investigation into sensitive topics such as
Tibetan-populated areas in Sichuan province and the so-called ‘House Church’
“The content of a foreign
correspondent’s articles is increasingly becoming the critical factor used by
Chinese authorities to determine whether a foreign correspondents’ visa will be
granted or not.
Media restrictions of this
kind are a fundamental violation of the regulations introduced by Chinese
authorities after the Olympic Games, which removed access limits to the media
except for some particular areas which require a permit”, IFJ Asia-Pacific
“The IFJ demands Chinese authorities
provide a full explanation of the reasons for the expulsion of Melissa Chan and
Al-Jazeera English from China.
We urge China’s government
officials to ensure that decisions regarding the granting of visas to foreign
correspondents are based on legitimate grounds, rather than a consideration of
their editorial content.”
According to the survey
conducted by the FCCC, 27 foreign reporters over the past two years have been made
to wait more than four months for visa approvals.
Thirteen of these had to
wait for more than six months. Three cases applied in 2009 and have yet to
receive any response from the authorities. Twenty eight permanent postings or
reporting trips had been cancelled since 2009 because applications for the
required journalist visas were rejected or ignored by the Chinese authorities.
In six cases foreign
reporters say they were told by Foreign Ministry officials that their bureau’s
visa applications had been rejected or put on hold due to their previous
coverage of Chinese affairs.
further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131
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