China declines to renew visa for Indian-American woman journalist

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Beijing:

China has refused to renew the journalist visa for an Indian-American woman reporter of the US-based BuzzFeed News allegedly due to her critical reporting on the volatile Muslim-majority Xinjiang province.

Megha Rajagopalan on Wednesday said in a tweet that China’s foreign ministry declined to issue her a new visa in May.

“It is bittersweet to leave Beijing after spending six wonderful and eye-opening years as a journalist there,” Megha, who previously worked for Reuters in Beijing, said.

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“In May, China’s Foreign Ministry declined to issue me a new journalist visa. They say this is a process thing, we are not totally clear why,” she said in a tweet.

In another Tweet last month, Megha highlighted her story on “how China’s sprawling surveillance state recruits, threaten and intimidate Muslim Uighurs into spying for Beijing and staying silent even in Europe and the United States. My latest, based on first-hand accounts, text messages and audio recordings”.

China previously denied visas to other journalists including an Al-Jazeera television reporter and a French magazine journalist over their reporting on Xinjiang.

Megha has now been appointed as the world correspondent for BuzzFeed News based in the Middle East.

In a statement, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said it has found the treatment meted out to Megha “extremely regrettable and unacceptable for a government that repeatedly insists it welcomes foreign media to cover the country.”

“We are attempting to get clarity from the Foreign Ministry on its reasoning for effectively ejecting a credentialed foreign journalist from China,” the FCC said.

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Resource-rich Xinjiang, bordering Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Afghanistan, is on the boil for years following unrest among Uighur Muslims over the increasing settlements of majority Han Chinese from other provinces.

It has witnessed some of the deadly terrorist attacks in recent years which also spread to other parts of China.

China blames the separatist East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) for the violent attacks in the province and spreading Islamic militancy.

The ETIM was previously linked to al-Qaeda and now to the ISIS.

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