Wall Street Journal reporter has become the latest journalist to join the club of correspondents booted from China over coverage of sensitive issues.
Chun Han Wong, a Singaporean national who has worked from the WSJ’s Beijing bureau since 2014, has been effectively expelled from the country after authorities declined to renew his press credentials.
The decision comes about a month after Wong co-wrote a story about an investigation in Australia into the activities of one of the cousins of Chinese President Xi Jinping over suspected money laundering, organized crime, and Chinese influence efforts.
In response to queries regarding Wong’s visa situation, China’s Foreign Ministry declared that foreign journalists who write “malicious smears and attacks against China” are “not welcome” in the country.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China has responded by issuing a statement, condemning China’s strategy of declining visa renewals to effectively evict journalists.
“Such treatment of foreign correspondents runs completely counter to Chinese claims that it supports openness and inclusiveness,” the club said. “Such actions should raise further concerns as China prepares to host major future global events, such as the Winter Olympics in 2012.”
FCCC Statement on Effective Expulsion of Wall Street Journal Correspondent pic.twitter.com/gcdYVjCIxW
— Foreign Correspondents' Club of China (@fccchina) August 30, 2019
Investigative reports on the families of China’s top leaders have got foreign media organizations into trouble in the past. For years, China refused to grant visas to new reporters from the New York Times after the newspaper published a story in 2012 about the vast wealth accumulated by former premier Wen Jiabao’s family.
A similar story that same year from Bloomberg about the wealth of Xi’s extended family also resulted in an informal ban on new visas, leading to negotiations with Chinese officials and then editor-in-chief Matthew Winkler to encourage self-censorship when the next blockbuster exposéwas in the works.
However, this is the first time that a journalist has been effectively expelled for such a story. Mike Forsythe, who co-wrote Bloomberg’s piece about Xi’s family, tweeted about how much has changed in the past seven years.
To clarify, it was certainly nerve-wracking to live in Beijing after the story was published. But as for the visa renewal, it was striking how polite the police were at the entry-exit bureau that year. The year before, one officer had grilled me about some Weibo posts I had made.
— Mike Forsythe 傅才德 (@PekingMike) August 30, 2019
The Wall Street Journal’sown editor-in-chief, Matt Murray, has responded to Wong being forced to leave China by saying: “It is disappointing that the Chinese government has denied our reporter press credentials. Our journalism has been fair and accurate.”