The Wall Street Journal’s publisher confirmed Friday that Chinese authorities have declined to renew one of its reporters’ press credentials, effectively expelling him from the country, following an investigative story he worked on about a cousin of Chinese President Xi Jinping, CNN informs.
Beijing-based reporter Chun Han Wong was the co-author of a report published in the Journal last month that detailed alleged involvement of Xi’s cousin in high-stakes gambling and potential money laundering in Australia.
When asked about Wong’s effective expulsion, the Chinese government insisted that it handles foreign journalists’ press credentials in accordance with law.
“We are firmly opposed to the malicious smearing and attacks against China by certain foreign journalists, who are not welcome in China,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement Friday. “At the same time, we will facilitate newsgathering work that complies with laws and regulations for foreign journalists in China.”
The Journal reported Friday on Wong’s removal from China, linking Beijing’s decision to his story last month, CNN adds.
“Mr. Xi’s private life and that of his relatives are considered sensitive by Chinese authorities,” the Journal said in its story. “Prior to publication, (foreign) ministry officials urged the Journal not to publish and warned of unspecified consequences.”
Journal publisher Dow Jones said it would “continue to look into the matter.”
Wong, a Singaporean national, began working in Beijing for the Journal in 2014 and his credentials had been approved annually until this time, according to the newspaper.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC) protested the decision, saying in a statement that it “condemns in the strongest possible terms the use of visa non-renewal as a form of punishment.”
“Expulsions of journalists from China amount to an extreme attempt by Chinese authorities to punish news organizations that conduct factual work that does not cast the country or its leadership in a flattering light,” the statement said. “Such treatment of foreign correspondents run completely counter to Chinese claims that it supports openness and inclusiveness. Such actions should raise further concerns as China prepares to host major global events, such as the Winter Olympics in 2022.”
Wong is the sixth journalist to be forced out of China under such circumstances since 2013, according to the FCCC statement.