Al Jazeera closes China bureau after reporter is expelled
Louise Duffy ©RapidTVNews | 08-05-2012
Al Jazeera has closed the China bureau for its English channel after Chinese authorities refused to renew its correspondent's visa. It is the first time since 1998 that Beijing has expelled an accredited foreign journalist.
Melissa Chan, a US citizen, had reported from Beijing for Al Jazeera's English language channel since 2007. She had reported extensively on sensitive topics such as illegal seizures of farmland and the imprisonment of petitioners from the countryside in unofficial "black jails".
Qatar-based Al-Jazeera said in a statement that it had no choice but to close its English-language service's bureau because Chan's press credentials and visa were not extended. It said no permission to replace Chan was given and its requests for additional visas for correspondents had gone unanswered. The expulsion does not impact Al Jazeera's Arabic-language service, which maintains several accredited journalists in its Beijing bureau.
China's foreign ministry was not immediately available for comment, and Chan also said she had no comment.
In a statement, director of news at Al Jazeera English, Salah Negm said: "We constantly cover the voice of the voiceless and sometimes that calls for tough news coverage from anywhere in world. We hope China appreciates the integrity of our news coverage and our journalism."