French journalist forced to leave China after article on Xinjiang

By REUTERS
January 1, 2016 05:41
1 minute read.

 
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A French journalist has been forced 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 Ursula Gauthier, a reporter for the French current affairs magazine L'Obs, marked the first time in more than three years that a journalist has been forced to leave China due to a refusal by authorities to renew accreditation.

China's foreign ministry said on Saturday that Gauthier could no longer work in China because she did not make a public apology for an article she wrote on Nov. 18.

Hours after President Xi Jinping told his French counterpart, Francois Hollande, that China stood by France in the wake of the Paris 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.

"Beautiful solidarity, but not entirely free of ulterior motives," Gauthier wrote in her article.

On Nov. 20, the government announced that security forces in Xinjiang had killed 28 "terrorists" from a group that carried out a deadly attack at a coal mine in September under the direction of "foreign extremists". The government has given no details of the composition of the group.

Reuters has not been able to independently verify that the suspects were Muslim Uighurs, or if they had a role in the mine attack due to tight government reporting restrictions in Xinjiang.

Hundreds of people have died in unrest in Xinjiang, home to the Uighurs, and other parts of China over the past three years.

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