China refused to extend the press credentials and visa of Melissa Chan, English correspondent of the Arabic-language news network Al-Jazeera in Beijing, and hasn't allowed the channel to find someone to replace her. The news network said that its Beijing bureau was "forced out of China." Foreign media claimed that Melissa Chan was the first accredited foreign journalist to be expelled from China since 1998.
In the past 14 years, there has been a lot of friction between China and other countries. China has seen many occasions when foreign media discredited the country with a biased perspective. But the Chinese government takes a restrained attitude toward them, as most Chinese officials acknowledge that it only makes things worse for a country's image if they take a confrontational position with foreign journalists.
China didn't give a specific reason for expelling the reporter. This ambiguity cannot be criticized. According to foreign journalist sources here in Beijing, Melissa Chan holds an aggressive political stance. According to foreign reports, she has a tense relationship with the management authorities of foreign correspondents. She has produced some programs which are intolerable for China.
Interfering with foreign media's reporting is a retrograde act, and it is simply impossible to do. However, foreign journalists in China must abide by journalistic ethics. They have their values and reporting angles, but the bottom line is that they should not turn facts upside down.
The scale of opinion expressed in the media, especially the Internet, has greatly expanded these last few years. The Chinese government's ability to accept criticism is greater than ever.
We don't want to see any confrontations between the Chinese government and foreign journalists here in China. Local authorities are more willing to cooperate with them, while foreign media should take an objective and balanced view toward the country. Foreign media should reflect on China's complexity, which is well-known to almost all foreigners in China. However, some media are only keen to show the wickedness of China to the world.
According to some Chinese people who work or used to work in foreign media bureaus, it is common practice for some foreign journalists to just piece together materials based on their presuppositions when reporting on China. If a foreign reporter cannot stay in China, we can only assume that he or she has done something cross the line.
The author is a commentator with the Chinese edition of the Global Times.