French journalist Ursula Gauthier faced the wrath of Beijing censors when she wrote about China’s policy toward the Muslim Uighur minority in China.
First, Beijing accused her of being sympathetic to the Uyghurs and promoting the violent actions taken by a few radicals. Then, to make sure she could not follow up on her stories, the foreign ministry refused to renew her visa to work in China. That meant she had to leave by December 31, 2015.
Denying visa renewals or sitting on the applications for a long time has become a standard move by the central government.
In 2014 the reporters from The New York Times and Bloomberg did not know until the last minute if they would be allowed to stay. Seems their articles about how family members of the ruling elite use their connections to get incredibly wealthy ticked off a few folks in Beijing.
The ruling Communist Party has always been hostile to Western media. Even though more reporters are being licensed to work in China, the harassment they face from national to local government officials is daunting.
The Foreign Correspondents Club of China regularly assembles stories and complaints about how the government is hindering journalists. The reports used to be posted on the FCCC website. Now, however, one has to specifically request the reports or sign in as a member.
The reason is pretty clear, the club is afraid if they are too public, the government will shut them down:
To ensure the continued operation of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China we are not currently making such material openly accessible on the website.
And it is not like anyone could blame them. At least the reports are available in one form or another.
And lest anyone think this is aimed at just the media, remember that the Canadian contestant for the Miss World competition was blocked from entering China because she spoke out about human rights violations in China.
What made it worse for Beijing, of course, was that the woman is Chinese-Canadian. It is one thing for a round-eyed foreign devil to be critical of China’s policies, but a whole other thing when the critic looks like any other Chinese person.
Beijing passed a new anti-terrorism law, in part to allow them to get Western nations on their side against the Uyghurs, but also to have a legal basis for their actions inside the country.
Under the new law, “terrorism” is now defined as any idea or activity that generates “social panic, undermines public security, infringes on personal and property rights, and menaces government organs and international organizations, with the aim to realize certain political and ideological purposes.”
And for Beijing, anything that challenges the supreme authority of the ruling Communist Party has the potential to generate social panic. And, it goes without saying, has “certain political and ideological purposes.”
Things are not likely to get better in China for reporters — foreign or domestic. The rhetoric against free press is clearly not letting up and the hostility aimed at foreign media representatives from doing their job of fairly and accurately reporting events in China is expected to continue unabated