China slammed a foreign correspondents’ club in the nation as an “illegal organization,” broadening its attack on journalists whose reports differ from the Beijing’s official line.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC) has no sense of right and wrong, and lacks principles, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying (華春瑩) said at a regular news conference in Beijing on Thursday.
“Fewer than half of foreign correspondents in China are members of the FCCC, and most of them are Western journalists from the US and Europe,” Hua said. “Foreign journalists in China should feel lucky.”
The FCCC declined to comment.
While Beijing has long described the FCCC as illegal, the rebuke as a whole was longer and more detailed than in the past.
Hua said statements by the FCCC were crafted by its nine board members without the knowledge of other members. The FCC board is elected by members, and correspondents are sometimes invited to participate in the drafting process.
China’s criticism of reporters from abroad has become more pointed under Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平). China regularly hits back at criticism of its activities in Xinjiang, where Western governments say as many as 1 million Uighurs have been locked up and forced to work.
China denies the allegations, saying its policies are aimed at fighting religious extremism and providing jobs.
Chinese government spokespeople regularly criticize reporters during news conferences, saying they lack credibility or complaining about their use of the word “camps” in Xinjiang. Beijing insists they be called “vocational education centers.”
The BBC’s China correspondent John Sudworth on Wednesday left Beijing for Taipei. That followed criticism from the Chinese government over the broadcaster’s coverage, as well as what Sudworth said was intimidation of his family and threats of legal action.
Beijing last year kicked a slew of foreign reporters out of the nation, saying most of the expulsions were in response to curbs the US placed on Chinese reporters.
Cheng Lei (成蕾), a Chinese-born Australian national who worked for state broadcaster CGTN, is being detained on national security charges, and two journalists working for Australian media outlets fled the nation in September last year after being questioned by security agents.
Haze Fan (范若伊), a member of the Bloomberg News Beijing bureau, was detained by the Chinese National Security Bureau in December last year on suspicion of engaging in criminal activities that jeopardized national security. The foreign ministry in February said that the case remained under investigation.
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