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Published On: Sat, Aug 31st, 2019

China expels WSJ reporter following report on Prez Xi’s cousin

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Michael-ToscanoBEIJING:  China effectively expelled a Wall Street Journal reporter Chun Han Wong from the country on Friday, weeks after he co-wrote an article detailing an investigation by Australian authorities into a cousin of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Chun Han Wong, a Singaporean national who has covered Chinese politics for the newspaper’s Beijing bureau since 2014, was denied a renewal for his press credentials, publisher Dow Jones said.

Chinese authorities told the Journal on Friday that press credentials would not be renewed for Chun Han Wong, a Singapore national who has covered Chinese politics out of the paper’s Beijing bureau since 2014.
The move came a month after the newspaper published a report co-authored by Wong revealing an Australian law-enforcement and intelligence investigation into Ming Chai, a 61-year-old Australian citizen and Xi’s cousin, for money laundering and high-stakes gambling.
China sometimes withholds or refuses visas to punish international news organizations for what the ruling Communist Party perceives as unfavorable coverage. But the decision amounted to the first time that the Chinese government has effectively banned a reporter from the Journal, a publication generally known for incisive but evenhanded coverage of the country.
The report, citing Australian officials and casino documents, detailed Chai’s lavish spending in resorts owned by the gambling mogul James Packer, and Chai’s links to what Australian officials deemed to be a money-laundering front in Melbourne.

The story noted there were no indications Xi knew about his cousin’s activities in Australia or that the Chinese leader was implicated in any wrongdoing.
Still, Beijing considers the private wealth of top leaders’ families to be the most sensitive and taboo reporting subject of all, given the chasm between the Communist Party’s ideological rhetoric and the vast, often hidden wealth accrued by elite families since the party turned toward state capitalism in the 1980s.
“We can confirm that Chinese authorities have declined to renew Chun Han’s press credentials. We continue to look into the matter,” a spokesman for Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, said in a statement to The Washington Post.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said in a statement Wong was the sixth journalist to leave the country under such circumstances since 2013, and condemned the move “in the strongest possible terms.
“A survey of 109 foreign journalists published in January “painted the darkest picture of reporting conditions inside China in recent memory”, the FCCC said at its release. The report said many journalists working in China have been threatened with visa delays, or issued with short-stay visas, which they believed were related to their coverage.
Under Xi’s hard-line rule, China has significantly tightened the domestic space for speech and dissent while aggressively ramping up overseas propaganda. Facebook and Twitter this month said they would remove nearly 1,000 state-backed accounts that were spreading disinformation globally about the anti-government protests in Hong Kong.(With Agency Inputs ).

 

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