A poll by Global Times has found that 94.5 percent of respondents support the expulsion of Ursula Gauthier, a French journalist who wrote an article criticizing Chinese government policy towards Uighurs in Xinjiang.
The party mouthpiece reports that as of 7 p.m. on December 27, 198 210 votes were cast in favor of the L’Obs journalist’s expulsion, or 94.5 percent of the total. 11,607 voted against (link to survey).
Gauthier’s article, originally published on December 18, suggested that China was using last month’s Paris attacks to justify crackdowns on Uighur people in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region. L’Obs said Gauthier has since received death threats after her article was published.
China has refused to renew Gauthier’s J visa, presenting her with no choice other than to leave the country by December 31. She is the first journalist to be expelled from the country since al-Jazeera English correspondent Melissa Chan was forced to leave in 2012.
The results of the poll have come as little surprise to many. To start with, the Global Times attracts an extremely nationalistic readership who are unlikely to agree with any criticism leveled at China. The question posed was also somewhat loaded. It reads, “Do you support the expulsion of the French journalist who sympathized with terrorists?”
After days of hostile attacks on Gauthier by state media, there was little doubt as to how the results of the poll would play out, especially as most Chinese will not have been able to read her original article.