Sun | Jan 20, 2019

French journalist leaving China after being forced out

Published:Friday | January 1, 2016 | 12:00 AM


A French journalist is leaving China after being denied press credentials and facing heavy criticism from the Foreign Ministry and state media over her reporting.

Ursula Gauthier, a longtime journalist for the French news magazine L'Obs, planned to board a flight out of Beijing shortly after midnight Friday.

She would be the first foreign jour-nalist forced to leave China since 2012, when American Melissa Chan, then working for Al Jazeera in Beijing, was expelled.

The Chinese government refused to renew Gauthier's press credentials, without which she could not obtain a new visa. It demanded that she apologise and express contrition over what it said was anti-Chinese bias.

Foreign Ministry spokesmen Lu Kang said that Gauthier was no longer "suitable" to be allowed to work in China because she had supported "terrorism and cruel acts" that killed civilians and refused to apologise for her words.

Gauthier said Thursday that she would never apologise for what she wrote, even if it meant not returning to China. She earlier called the accusations absurd and said China should prosecute her if it truly believed she supported terrorism.

The French foreign ministry issued a statement of regret over China's refusal to renew her visa, while the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China said it was "appalled" by the decision and expressed concern that the government was using the accreditation and visa process to threaten foreign journalists.