Taipei, August 22, 2018--The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to renew the visa of BuzzFeed's China bureau chief, Megha Rajagopalan, according to a tweet from Rajagopalan and news reports.
The ministry did not give a clear reason for refusing her visa, Rajagopalan said today on Twitter. Rajagopalan had been covering Asia for BuzzFeed News since 2016, according to the news outlet. Her report on Xinjiang's heavy surveillance measures and re-education camps won a 2018 Human Rights Press Award.
"Denying a visa to BuzzFeed reporter Megha Rajagopalan is a transparent attempt to stifle news coverage of how China treats the Uighur population of Xinjiang Province," said Steven Butler, CPJ Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. "If Chinese authorities truly believe their insistence that they are not committing human rights violations in Xinjiang, they should open the door for more journalists to freely report on the issue."
In a statement, the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China (FCCC) urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to provide "its reasoning for effectively ejecting a credentialed foreign journalist from China." The FCCC's most recent annual survey showed a steady deterioration of working conditions in China for the foreign press, including denial or restrictions on foreign correspondents' access to large parts of the country in 2017.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The year Rajagopalan began covering Asia for BuzzFeed News has been corrected in the second paragraph.