French media denounce expulsion of straight talking China correspondent
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French editors and journalists have denounced the expulsion of French journalist, Ursula Gauthier, from China following the publication of her critical article on government policies in Xinjiang. "It is practically impossible for a journalist to work in Xinjiang without being followed by plainclothes agents," French media representatives lashed out.
A group of French media editors and correspondents has denounced China’s expulsion of the French journalist, Ursula Gauthier, who has been ordered to leave the country by midnight on 31 January.
Beijing refused to renew Ursula Gauthier's visa following the publication of an article she wrote for the weekly magazine, L’Obs, which criticised government policies in Xinjiang, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur minority and an area often subjected to violent incidents.
“We protest against the abusive treatment by the People’s Republic of China of Ursula Gauthier, Beijing correspondent of the magazine L’Obs,” more than forty French editors and journalists stated in a signed denouncement published in Le Monde.
“Ms. Gauthier has been accredited since 2009,” the editorial continues. “She has deep knowledge of China, where she earlier spent about ten years. She is one of the few journalists based in Beijing to travel regularly to the Tibet and Xinjiang regions, where the Chinese authorities face recurrent protest movements that are invariably put down.
“The official Chinese press rarely breathes a word about this, while maximum efforts are made to dissuade the foreign media from going to these areas to report on the situation. It is practically impossible for a journalist to work in Xinjiang without being followed by plainclothes agents. The reporters who dare to go there are regularly detained or expelled from the region."
Ursula Gauthier is accused by Beijing of having “encouraged terrorism” in her article published on November 18, and of not being “suitable” to work as a journalist in China. She told RFI: “It’s the fact of my having discussed, openly, the questions concerning the Uighur minority, the suppression, the forced assimilation of a minority,” that has got me where I am.
The French journalist also questioned China's motives in expressing sympathy for the victims of the November 13 Paris attacks, arguing that they could be part of a calculated plan to tie Beijing's strict handling of Xinjiang into the broader fight against global terrorism.
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