Beijing: The English-language bureau of the Qatar-based Al Jazeera has been closed in Beijing after China refused to renew the accreditation and visa of its correspondent Melissa Chan or allow a replacement.
   
However, its Arabic bureau continues to function without interruption. The channel in its website has expressed disappointment at the situation and said it is continuing to request a presence in China.
   
Chan, a US citizen who has been working in China since 2007 had to leave China following the denial of visa to her.
     
She has filed nearly 400 reports during her five years in the country, the channel said.
     
Salah Negm, director of news at Al Jazeera English said: "We've been doing a first class job at covering all stories in China.
     
Terming the move appalling, the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China, (FCC), an informal body not recognised by Chinese government said Chan was being punished for a documentary aired by the channel even though she has no part in it.
     
"Chinese officials had expressed anger at a documentary the channel aired last November.
     
"Melissa Chan did not even play a part in making that documentary. They have also expressed unhappiness with the general editorial content on Al Jazeera English and accused Chan of violating rules and regulations that they have not specified," it said in a statement.
     
"This is the most extreme example of a recent pattern of using journalist visas in an attempt to censor and intimidate foreign correspondents in China", it said.
     
Declining to provide the reasons why Chan was expelled, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Hong Lei told a media briefing here on Tuesday that there is a open and free environment for the foreign media to report from China.
     
"At the same time foreign journalists have to follow law and regulations and follow professional ethics", he said.
   
"We have been dealing with relevant media and foreign journalists in accordance with relevant laws and regulations as well as actual performance of the journalists", he said.
     
He declined to say which law and regulation Chan has violated.
     
"I want to stress that foreign journalists must abide by relevant laws and regulations as well as professional ethics while reporting from China.
     
Our position in this regard is very firm", he said answering a spate of questions.
     
Last year, foreign correspondents here had a tough time covering the attempts made by overseas dissident group to organise demonstrations in Beijing which finally never took place.
   
Chinese officials however up foreign correspondents who went there to report about it.

(Agencies)

 

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