Megha Rajagopalan has joined the list of ousted reporters who fail to ‘reflect the will of the party’
China ‘ejects’ US journalist known for reporting on Xinjiang repression
Date: 28 Aug 2018
By: Maya Wang
Buzzfeed’s China bureau chief, Megha Rajagopalan, who has reported from the country for six
years, announced on Twitter last week that the Chinese government had refused to renew her journalist visa, effectively expelling her. The authorities did not explain the decision, which came after her recent reports exposing the growing abuses in the Muslim minority region of Xinjiang, which surely drew the authorities’ ire. The Chinese state tabloid Global Times published an op-ed that called her work “delusional western reporting”.
Rajagopalan’s expulsion follows those of French reporter Ursula Gauthier in 2015 and US journalist Melissa Chan in 2012. The US journalists Paul Mooney and Austin Ramzy were denied visas to work in China either because of their reporting on human rights issues or because their news organisations had dug into top leaders’ murky web of wealth.
The retribution against foreign correspondents is the tip of the iceberg as authorities tighten their grip on the media, particularly since President Xi Jinping assumed power in 2013. In a tour of state media outlets in 2016, Xi told them they must always “reflect the will of the [Chinese Communist] party”.
The brunt of government press controls is often borne by Chinese journalists, who face intimidation, assault and imprisonment for doing their jobs. In February 2018, the Shandong reporter Qi Chonghuai was released after more than 10 years in prison – during which he was tortured – for reporting on corruption. Freelance journalist Chen Jieren, who ran a blog that routinely criticised party officials, has been detained since August for “fraud” and running an “illegal business”.
The state’s censorship machine does not simply scrub out sensitive information. Instead, it generates a sophisticated mirage – a technique the authorities call “directing public opinion” – that allows some accurate reporting but not a full picture of a particular problem. Before Human Rights Watch published an investigative report on the Chinese police’s use of torture in 2015, I contacted a number of Chinese journalists. They told me that while it was possible to report on isolated cases of torture, portraying torture as “routine” – a central finding of our report – would be completely off-limits. [FULL STORY]