The correspondent of the French news weekly L’Obs, Gauthier has been told that her visa is not being renewed because of a story last month about Chinese counter-terrorism policies. This means she will have to leave by 31 December.
Published on 18 November and headlined “(After the Paris) attacks, China’s solidarity is not without ulterior motives,” her article accused the government of using the Jihadi threat and security requirements as pretexts for cracking down on calls for independence in the far-west province of Xinjiang.
As a result of the article, Gauthier was the target of a smear campaign in the government-controlled media as well as a series of online attacks. Some sites went so far as to post photos of Gauthier along with her private address.
“We are shocked by the Chinese authorities’ decision to expel this journalist, who has been based in China for several years,” Reporters Without Borders editor in chief Aude Rossigneux said.
“The government is yet again putting pressure on journalists who criticize its policies. It is not the job of correspondents to act as mouthpieces of the People’s Republic of China. We urge the government to stop using intimidation to obstruct reporting by foreign journalists.”
Harassment by the authorities, obstruction and intimidation attempts continue to be the lot of foreign journalists and their local fixers in China. Several foreign journalists were manhandled and prevented from working freely after the explosions in the port city of Tianjin in August.
China is ranked 176th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.