MEAA concerned at China's expulsion of foreign correspondents
MEAA has written to China’s Ambassador to Australia to express its concern at the revoking by China of three Wall Street Journal foreign correspondents’ press credentials. One of the three is Australian journalist Philip Wen who has worked in the Australian media for several years during which time he was a member of MEAA Media.
MEAA’s letter has been copied to the Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne.
[The journalists’ expulsion] is particularly worrying because none of journalists were involved in the news article to which China has taken exception. Indeed, it appears that China is attacking three respected journalists who were not involved in either the opinion article or the particular headline that has offended China.
MEAA is concerned that not only is the withdrawal of three’s press credentials an excessive and unnecessary action but it is also an assault on press freedom – particularly at a time when the world is looking at China for strength and leadership.
The expulsion of three foreign journalists also casts a shadow over the goodwill that is being extended to China right now – it strains relationships and chills the foreign media as they carry out their duties in difficult conditions and under immense workloads.
We sincerely urge the Chinese Government to reconsider our colleague Philip Wen’s expulsion and to restore his press credentials as a gesture of good faith.
We also urge the Government to find a more constructive and cooperative approach to express its concerns about the opinion article that has caused offence.
Both these actions would reassure the foreign media as they carry out their reporting responsibilities at this crucial time.
The International Federation of Journalists’ United States affiliate, NWU said, “Ordering three journalists to leave China, in the midst of a health crisis where the world is following every development, reflects the heightened tensions between the US and China. We request these press credentials be restored as limits on press freedom do not serve the needs of a world in search of answers to this immediate crisis.”
The IFJ said: “This move shows the efforts the Chinese authorities are prepared to take in a bid to stem negative coverage of the coronavirus both in China and globally. Despite there being no direct link from the piece in question to the journalists, China has now ejected three senior journalists with no due cause. The end result can only be seen as an excuse to shut down all WSJ coverage and send a very intimidating message to any other foreign journalists in China and their media companies. The IFJ calls on the Chinese government to acknowledge the apology and statements made by the WSJ and allow the journalists to remain in China to provide vital reporting not only on the coronavirus but the other important reporting that sheds light on all aspects of China to the rest of the world.”