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French Journalist Forced to Leave China After Criticizing Government

  • VOA News

French journalist Ursula Gauthier, a reporter in China for the French news magazine L'Obs, second from left, walks through Bejing Capital International Airport in Beijing, Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015.

French journalist Ursula Gauthier, a reporter in China for the French news magazine L'Obs, second from left, walks through Bejing Capital International Airport in Beijing, Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015.

A French reporter has left China after being denied media credentials over an article she wrote criticizing Beijing's policies in the violence-hit region of Xinjiang.

Beijing's Foreign Ministry accused Ursula Gauthier of "supporting terrorism and the killing of innocents" in her November 18 article for the weekly L'Obs magazine.

In the piece, Gauthier questioned whether China's expression of solidarity with the victims of the recent Paris terror attacks was an attempt to win international support for its policies in Xinjiang.

Gauthier said it is possible that recent violence carried out by Uighurs, a mostly Muslim group in Xinjiang, was the result of China's harsh restrictions on their religious life.

China demanded Gauthier recant the story if she wanted to stay in China. She refused, saying the accusations against her were "absurd" and that she was only doing her job.

After Gauthier's departure Friday, China's Foreign Ministry again stressed that it will "not tolerate those who defend terrorism."

"China will ensure the legal rights of foreign media organizations and journalists to cover China, but the Chinese government and people will not tolerate defense of terrorism in the name of freedom," spokesman Lu Kang said.

Earlier, when asked whether Gauthier could ever return to China, Lu said it was "entirely up to her."

L'Obs stood by its correspondent, saying in an editorial that Gauthier's eviction from China represents a "major incident" between China and France.

French officials have asked Chinese authorities to reverse their decision. The European Union also criticized the decision, saying it supports "the principles of the media as underpinning every free society."

In 2012, China also expelled Al Jazeera English reporter Melissa Chan, following several reports that were critical of the government and the ruling Communist Party.

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