Al Jazeera has been forced to close down its bureau in China following the expulsion of Melissa Chan, a U.S. journalist who has covered China since 2007.
China banned Al Jazeera from replacing Ms. Chan with another reporter after refusing to extend her visa. According to Radio Liberty authorities in China claimed Al Jazeera's coverage from Beijing was "frequently biased and incorrect."
According to Al Jazeera, the Chinese Foreign Minister said Ms. Chan had violated regulations, but he failed to define in what way. The reporter had focused on human rights issues in China, coverage which had recently resulted in warnings to foreign journalists. Al Jazeera's news director Salah Negm said, "We hope China appreciates the integrity of our news coverage and our journalism. We value this journalist integrity in our coverage of all countries in the world. We are committed to our coverage of China. Just as China news services cover the world freely we would expect that same freedom in China for any Al Jazeera journalist."
The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China issued a statement, saying Ms Chan's expulsion was "the most extreme example of a recent pattern of using journalist visas in an attempt to censor and intimidate foreign correspondents in China" the WSJ reported. They also quote James McGregor, chairman of the U.S. government relations committee for the American Chamber of Commerce, who said, "Before, China used to try to influence foreign journalists. Now they're trying to control them the same way they control local journalists, through intimidation. And it's not going to work. You could kick out a foreign journalist every week and they're still not going to produce propaganda for you." Ms. Chan's expulsion represents the first ousting of an accredited foreign correspondent from China in 14 years.