French reporter forced to leave China

Ursula Gauthier, a reporter for the French current affairs magazine L'Obs, waits at Beijing international airport before her departure to France, in Beijing on Dec 31, 2015.
Ursula Gauthier, a reporter for the French current affairs magazine L'Obs, waits at Beijing international airport before her departure to France, in Beijing on Dec 31, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING • A French journalist has to leave China after the government said it would not renew her press credentials for the new year in response to a critical report on Beijing's policies in the troubled western region of Xinjiang.

The departure of Ms Ursula Gauthier, a reporter for the current affairs magazine L'Obs, will mark the first time in more than three years that a journalist has been forced to leave China due to a refusal by the authorities to renew accreditation.

China's Foreign Ministry last Saturday said Ms Gauthier could no longer work in the country because she did not make a public apology for an article she wrote on Nov 18.

Hours after Chinese President Xi Jinping told his French counterpart Francois Hollande that China stood by France in the wake of the Paris terror attacks in November, the article said, China's Public Security Ministry announced the capture of suspects over a coal mine attack in September in Xinjiang.

Ms Gauthier's story questioned China's motives in expressing sympathy for the victims of the Nov 13 Paris attacks, saying that they were calculated to tie Beijing's harsh policies in Xinjiang with the fight against global terrorism.

Chinese Foreign Ministry said the article "openly supports terrorist activity, the killing of innocents and has outraged the Chinese public".

Ms Gauthier stressed that she never supported terrorism in her article. She was due to leave Beijing on a 1am flight today.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 01, 2016, with the headline 'French reporter forced to leave China'. Print Edition | Subscribe