IFJ Condemns Expulsion of Foreign Correspondent by Chinese Authorities


The International

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

about China.


“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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