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China Pours More Scorn on French Journalist Being Forced Out

  • Associated Press

French journalist Ursula Gauthier, a reporter for the French news magazine L'Obs, holds a statement criticizing her from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs as she sits at her desk in her apartment in Beijing, Dec. 26, 2015.

French journalist Ursula Gauthier, a reporter for the French news magazine L'Obs, holds a statement criticizing her from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs as she sits at her desk in her apartment in Beijing, Dec. 26, 2015.

China said Monday that it would impose new restrictions on media reports about domestic terrorism, as it continued to deride a French journalist being forced to leave the country after questioning Beijing's claims about the terrorist threat it faces.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the restrictions are mandated under the country's new anti-terrorism law passed over the weekend, but gave few details.

"The various restrictions intend to prevent copy-cat crimes, protect frontline anti-terror workers and keep society from the harm of hearsay," Xinhua said. "It is for the common good that foreign media outlets in China as well as domestic media organizations comply with these regulations and make their due contribution to the global fight against terror."

The new anti-terrorism law contains a clause saying that news organizations should aid in the propaganda struggle against terrorism, but offers no specifics about restrictions or penalties.

It was rubber-stamped by the national legislature on Sunday amid concerns that its requirements that tech companies share information with the government could hurt business interests and further infringe upon freedom of speech and other human rights.

Beijing has asserted that China is a victim of global terrorism following violent ethnic clashes involving members of the Muslim minority Uighur community in the far northwest region of Xinjiang. Foreign experts, however, have argued that there is no proof of foreign ties and that the violence in Xinjiang are homegrown and largely a reaction to oppressive government policies.

The law's passage followed China's declaration Saturday that it will not renew press credentials for Ursula Gauthier, a longtime Beijing-based journalist for the French news magazine L'Obs, effectively expelling her following a media campaign against her for questioning the official line equating ethnic violence in Xinjiang with global terrorism.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters Monday that Gauthier must leave by the end of the year after failing to apologize for a Nov. 18 story "saturated with sympathy for terrorists."

Gauthier's report "blatantly championed acts of terrorism and slaughter of innocent civilians, igniting indignation among the Chinese people," Lu said.

China's campaign of vilification against Gauthier has drawn protests from the French government and media organizations, underscoring the government's often hostile approach to foreign media. Journalists for China's own entirely state-controlled media work under much tighter restrictions.

Gauthier wrote that some of the violent attacks in Xinjiang involving Uighurs showed no evidence of foreign ties. She disputed China's efforts to equate the Xinjiang struggle with the November terrorist attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead, referencing Chinese leader Xi Jinping by name.

Gauthier has denied the accusations against her and said she is prepared to leave on Dec. 31. Once she departs, she will become the first foreign journalist forced to leave China since 2012, when American Melissa Chan, then working for Al Jazeera in Beijing, was expelled.

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