AL JAZEERA HAS closed its bureau in China after authorities refused to renew a visa for its correspondent in Beijing, the news channel has said.
It is the first time since 1998 that a foreign correspondent has been effectively expelled from China.
Earlier this morning Melissa Chan, the reporter who has covered China since 2007, tweeted that her press credentials had been revoked. Chan has been Al Jazeera English’s China correspondent since 2007 and has filed nearly 400 reports during her five years in the country.
The channel expressed its disappointment at the situation and said it will continue to request a presence in China. Chinese authorities have refused to renew Chan’s press credentials and visa, or allow a replacement journalist to take her place.
“We are committed to our coverage of China,” said Salah Negm, director of news at Al Jazeera English. “Just as China news services cover the world freely we would expect that same freedom in China for any Al Jazeera journalist”.
Bob Dietz of the Committee to Protect Journalists said Chan’s case was the first time a journalist had been expelled from the country in fourteen years, saying:
[It] marks a real deterioration in China’s media environment and sends a message that international coverage is unwanted.