The United States Embassy on Friday expressed its concern over the restrictions that journalists in China face while doing their jobs, AFP reported. The statement came days after Chinese authorities declined to extend the visa of an Indian American journalist, Megha Rajagopalan. She was the Beijing bureau chief of BuzzFeed News.
Without directly naming Rajagopalan, the Embassy said, “The United States is deeply concerned that foreign and domestic journalists in China continue to face excessive restrictions that impede their ability to do their jobs.”
Reporters face “delays in processing foreign journalist visas, overboard restrictions on travel to certain locations deemed ‘sensitive’ by Chinese authorities and, in some cases, violence at the hands of local authorities”, the Embassy said.
China’s Foreign Ministry warned that the US Embassy should stick to its diplomatic mission in China. “The US embassy in China should know that it should earnestly abide by the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations, refrain from activities inconsistent with the status of the embassy and refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of other countries,” spokesperson Lu Kang said, according to PTI.
“As for the foreign journalist mentioned by the US Embassy in China, I said yesterday [Thursday] that she is not a resident foreign correspondent in China,” Lu added. “As for issues related to visa issuance between China and the United States, the US embassy in China should be well aware of international practices.”
Rajagopalan had reported extensively on the Xinjiang province. The north-western Xinjiang region is home to more than 10 million members of the Uyghur Muslim minority group. Several reports have suggested that the Uyghur community is being discriminated against and about 2 million people have been forced into “political camps for indoctrination” in the region.
A United Nations panel said earlier this month that several “credible reports” suggest that China has made the region a “massive internship camp shrouded in secrecy, a sort of no-rights zone”, in the name of fighting religious extremism. China has denied the charges.