CBC closes its office in China for lack of visa

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Canada’s public broadcaster said it had closed its news bureau in China after more than 40 years of operating in the country, saying their reporter’s “repeated requests” for a work visa had been ignored.

CBC News editor-in-chief Brodie Fenlon wrote in a blog post yesterday that the China correspondent of her French-speaking counterpart Radio-Canada has not received a visa since applying in October 2020.

“Despite numerous exchanges with the Chinese consulate in Montreal and requests for appointments over the past two years, there is still no visa,” writes Fenlon.

“Closing the Beijing office is the last thing we want to do, but our hand has been forced.”

CBC’s closure of its press office in China follows the mass expulsion of more than a dozen US media journalists in March 2020 in a US-China exchange, after which it became increasingly difficult for foreign journalists to obtain Chinese visas.

Since 2020, the number of new foreign correspondent visas has dried up significantly, with wait times for a new visa typically lasting several months.

Beijing cites pandemic border controls for delays in issuing new visas.

Independent Chinese media is virtually non-existent due to local regulations, leaving foreign journalists to cover sensitive topics under difficult conditions.

Journalists from foreign media regularly face harassment and state surveillance in their reporting activities, as well as denial of access to official events.

“As the number of journalists expelled by the Chinese state increases due to excessive intimidation or outright deportation, covering China is increasingly becoming an exercise in reporting from a distance,” the Correspondents’ Club said. foreigners from China in its 2022 report.

CBC’s last correspondent in Beijing, Sasa Petricic, returned to Canada after China’s lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the broadcaster was only able to return once for the Olympics in winter of February 2022 in Beijing, according to the note.

Over the next two years, CBC and Radio-Canada correspondent Philippe Leblanc will work out of Taiwan instead, Fenlon said.

“We hope that China will one day open up to our journalists,” he wrote.

China is ranked 175th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ 2022 Media Freedom Index. — AFP, November 3, 2022.

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