Asia - Pacific

China bans French journalist for advocating 'terrorism'

Reporter had ridiculed Beijing's attempts to draw parallels between Paris attacks and local Muslim Uighur 'terrorism'

27.12.2015
China bans French journalist for advocating 'terrorism'

BEIJING

China has refused to renew press credentials for a French journalist who questioned what she described as Beijing's "ulterior motives" in drawing parallels between the Paris attacks and "terrorism" within its own borders.

State news agency Xinhua reported Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang as saying late Saturday that Ursula Gauthier had offended the Chinese people with an article in which it said she "overtly voiced support for terrorist activities".

It added that Beijing would not be allowing Gauthier to continue reporting from the country.

On Nov. 18, Gauthier -- the Beijing-based correspondent for French news magazine L'Obs -- wrote that China had no basis in the comparison.

The article saw her refuse to recognize Beijing's attempts to draw parallels between a Sept. 18 attack that is reported to have claimed at least 16 lives at a mine in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region -- the home of a majority of the country's Muslim Uighur population -- and the Daesh organized attacks that killed at least 130 people in Paris.

Instead she blamed government policy in Xinjiang for "terrorist" attacks, describing them as a response to "the merciless crushing of the Muslim Uighur minority".

Uighur refer to Xinjiang as East Turkestan and consider it to be part of Central Asia, not China. For years, they have accused China of carrying out repressive policies that restrain their religious, commercial and cultural activities.

According to an English translation of Gauthier's original report published by China Digital Times, the French journalist stated that even though the Xinjiang attack had been bloody, it "had nothing in common" with the Paris attacks.

"In fact it was an explosion of local rage such as have blown up more and more often in this distant province whose inhabitants, turcophone and Muslim Uighur, face pitiless repression."

Gauthier attempted to underline that by associating the two acts of violence and declaring its solidarity with nations threatened by Daesh, "in return it [China] expects the support of the international community in its own entanglements with its most restless minority." 

Xinhua reported foreign ministry spokesman Lu as saying that Gauthier had failed to apologize for her wrong words "and it is no longer suitable for her to work in China".

China will never tolerate the "freedom" of speaking for terrorism, he added.

On Sunday, China's top legislature adopted the country's first counter-terrorism law in its latest attempt to address "terrorism" at home and -- as the state news agency put it -- "help maintain world security."

Xinhua reported that lawmakers approved the legislation at the end of a week-long bimonthly session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee with all 159 legislators voting for the bill.

Prior to Sunday, China did not have a specialized counter-terrorism law, though related provisions feature in various NPC Standing Committee decisions.

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