China has expelled French journalist Ursula Gauthier on the basis of an article she wrote questioning Beijing’s policy toward Muslim Uighers in Xinjiang.
The country’s capital, Beijing, confirmed that it would not renew Gauthier’s credentials owing to the fact that she wrote about “terrorism and cruel acts” taking place in Xinjiang, which was causing unrest in the region. This means that the French journalist cannot apply for visa renewal and will therefore have to leave China by Dec. 31.
The article was published soon after the Paris attacks and suggested that China’s support for France was a means of justifying its own repression on the Uighur community. The article soon became a topic of heated discussion for the Chinese government, which demanded Gauthier apologize for "supporting terrorism."
However, the journalist denied the claims and called them “absurd,” saying that Beijing’s act is just another way of deterring foreign journalists in the country.
There has been long history of discord between China’s Uighur community and the authorities. The Uighurs, most of whom are Muslim, claim that Beijing represses its religious and cultural customs, something that causes outrage in the community.
China’s foreign ministry confirmed its stance on not renewing Gauthier’s press card on Saturday and claimed "China will never support the freedom to champion terrorism.” The authorities also called spoke about what they termed as “double standards,” stating that action against Islamists in the West was conveniently called “anti-terrorism” but in China was known as “repression.”
Gauthier will be the first foreign journalist to be expelled since al-Jazeera correspondent Melissa Chan in 2012.