Chris Buckley, a reporter for the New York Times who has lived in China for the past 15 years, has been expelled from the country in what most commentators are calling a retaliatory act for the paper’s exposé of Wen Jiabao’s family’s massive wealth.
In a particularly cruel piece of irony, Buckley, an Australian national, didn’t even work on the NYT‘s coverage of the Wen clan’s finances.
Bloomberg, the business news service, has been blocked in China since revealing on June 29 that close relatives of Mr Xi had quietly accrued assets that tally up to more than $1 billion.
Within hours of the report in The New York Times on October 25, Chinese authorities blocked the newspaper’s English and Chinese language websites, the latter established months earlier.
The editor of the Chinese language website, American citizen Phil Pan [author of Out of Mao’s Shadow: The Struggle for the Soul of a New China], has also been denied a journalist visa to work in China.
Buckley earned a reputation in China for balance and rigour.
”This kind of thing is simply a disaster,” a leading Chinese media commentator, Michael Anti, wrote on his Weibo social media account.
On Twitter, China reporters were optimistic that the authorities would soon climb down from what may prove to be a propaganda own goal, though the outrage of the international press didn’t prevent Al Jazeera’s Melissa Chan being kicked out of the country.
Some commentators have noted (h/t: Kaiser Kuo) that David Barboza, the reporter who actually broke the Wen story, had his visa renewed without any trouble. Buckley’s expulsion may therefore be ‘punishment’ for his work at Reuters, where he was for many years before joining the NYT in October.