Newspaper article International New York Times

Journalist Faces Expulsion after Her Essay on Uighurs

Newspaper article International New York Times

Journalist Faces Expulsion after Her Essay on Uighurs

Article excerpt

Ursula Gauthier, a French reporter who criticized China's treatment of the minority group, must leave before Jan. 1 unless her credentials are renewed.

A French journalist says she is facing expulsion from China after she wrote an article critical of the country's treatment of its Uighur minority, which prompted stinging criticism in the state- controlled news media, a public rebuke from a government spokeswoman and a torrent of online invective.

The journalist, Ursula Gauthier, a Beijing-based journalist for the newsmagazine L'Obs, must leave China before Jan. 1 unless her press credentials are renewed, usually a routine process taking place in November and early December for the hundreds of foreign correspondents based in China. As of Tuesday, Ms. Gauthier said in an interview, she has received no notice from the Foreign Ministry that she would be allowed to stay, nor any similar indication from French diplomats, who have raised her case with Chinese officials.

Should Ms. Gauthier be forced to leave, she would be the first foreign correspondent expelled from China since Melissa Chan of Al Jazeera's English-language service left in 2012 after reporting on issues such as forced land seizures and illegal detention centers also known as "black jails."

The government has also punished news organizations that report on the wealth accumulated by the families of Chinese leaders by withholding credentials from new journalists they assign to China. New reporters hired by The New York Times were forced to leave Beijing in 2012 and 2014 after the government declined to grant them visas.

In late 2013, the government also delayed the renewal of credentials for about two dozen journalists with The New York Times and Bloomberg News but issued the documents in the final days of the year. It is possible it may do the same for Ms. Gauthier, who has been a correspondent in Beijing since 2009.

Ms. Gauthier enraged the government with her biting essay, published Nov. 18 in the days after coordinated terror attacks in Paris left 130 people dead. She opened her piece discussing the outpouring of sympathy for the victims by Chinese people and the love they had expressed for Paris. Then she pivoted to the Chinese government's attempt to link the Paris attacks with its own efforts to combat the violence in Xinjiang.

"Beautiful solidarity, but not entirely free of ulterior motives," she wrote.

In the days after the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris, China's government for the first time publicized a deadly Sept. …

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