Chris Buckley’s forced removal from China, after the government refused to renew his visa on May 8 makes him the 19th foreign correspondent to be expelled from China in the last 12 months. Buckley, an Australian citizen, and his wife left China on May 8 bound for Sydney, Australia.
For the last 24 years, Buckley has been based in China and investigated and written extensively on Chinese government activities, exposing the mass detention of Uyghurs in Xinjiang last year and more recently commenting on the Chinese government’s lack of transparency as Covid-19 spread from the epicentre of Wuhan and reported on the outcry over the death of whistleblower Dr Li Wenliang. Despite the expulsion, Buckley was told he would be allowed to come back to China in the future.
This is not the first time Buckley has been expelled from China. In 2012 he was asked to leave China, two months after publishing an article revealing the wealth of now-retired Chinese politician Wen Jiabo, who is worth $2.7 billion.
On May 8, the US retaliated to China’s expulsion of journalists by restricting the visas of Chinese journalists employed by non-US media in America to 90 days, with a visa extension limited to 90 days. In combination with the Covid-19 pandemic and global economic pressures, the retaliatory relationship between the US and China has resulted in escalated trade tensions.
The IFJ said: “The tensions between the US and China are already having grave impacts on press freedom and the lives of working journalists.Expelling foreign correspondents during a health pandemic is a major roadblock to fighting the global pandemic. The IFJ urges the Chinese government to respect press freedom and uphold the rights of media workers amid external pressures.”