Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Al Jazeera closes English-language bureau in Beijing

Qatar-based broadcaster closes bureau after its reporter, Melissa Chan, became the first journalist expelled from China in 14 years.

BEIJING // Al Jazeera has been forced to close its English-language bureau in the Chinese capital after its reporter was expelled amid anger over a documentary the network aired.

The Qatar-based broadcaster's correspondent in Beijing, Melissa Chan, became the first journalist expelled from China in 14 years when she left this week after the authorities refused to renew her press accreditation.

According to the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China (FCCC), officials were angered by a programme on labour camps broadcast in November, although it was produced outside China, and were unhappy "with the general editorial content on Al Jazeera English".

Stephen McDonell, FCCC president, said journalists are puzzled why Chan was singled out.

"A lot of people do so-called 'tough stories' and light stories and sensitive stories and I just don't quite see what she's done to be kicked out," said McDonell, the China correspondent for the Australian ABC network.

He said while conditions for journalists in China improved in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics, they had deteriorated in the past two years.

Chan's expulsion was also criticised by Bob Dietz, Asia coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, who said it "seems to be taking China's anti-media policies to a new level".

Chan had reported from China for five years, covering controversial subjects such as China's "black jails", which are unofficial centres where petitioners are often detained."

Al Jazeera's Arabic-language bureau in Beijing continues to operate and the network has said it aims to reopen the English service.

"Just as China news services cover the world freely we would expect that same freedom in China for any Al Jazeera journalist," Salah Negm, Al Jazeera English's director of news, said.

Correspondents in China have reported increasing difficulties since early 2011, when many came under pressure for reporting on attempts to hold street protests inspired by the uprisings that swept the Middle East.

Several journalists had their press credentials temporarily confiscated last week for entering the hospital where Chen Guangcheng, a blind activist, was taken.

Juergen Kremb of the German magazine Der Spiegel and Yukihisa Nakatsu of the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun were the last journalists to be expelled from China, in 1998. Both were expelled for allegedly possessing state secrets.

dbardsley@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greeted by university students as he leaves Sistan University in Sistan and Baluchestan’s provincial capital of Zahedan on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

In Iran’s most troubled province, Rouhani hears pleas for change

Hassan Rounani aims to connect with residents of far-flung Sistan and Baluchestan province.

 Prince Bandar bin Sultan in Riyadh on March 3, 2007. Hassan Ammar / AFP Photo

Saudi Prince Bandar promised a victory he could not deliver

Saudi Arabia's controversial intelligence chief stepped down this week after rumours that his policies on Syria had fallen out of favour.

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish spiritual leader Fethullah Gulen. AFP Photo

The inner workings of Gulen’s ‘parallel state’

Fethullah Gulen's followers are accused of trying to push Turkey's prime minister from power.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National