China refuses to renew Indian-American journalist’s visa

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Megha Rajagopalan (Courtesy: Twitter)

China has refused to renew Indian-American journalist Megha Rajagopalan’s visa for her critical reporting on the volatile Muslim-majority Xinjiang province.

Rajagopalan is a journalist, who works for BuzzFeed News, and has been working in Beijing, China for the last six years and was previously at Reuters in Beijing, the New York Times reported.

“It is bittersweet to leave Beijing after spending six wonderful and eye-opening years as a journalist there. In May, China’s Foreign Ministry declined to issue me a new journalist visa. They say this is a process thing, we are not totally clear why,” Rajagopalan tweeted Aug. 22.

The same day she tweeted about a new position in Buzzfeed. “Some news from me— I’m really excited to be moving to a new role @BuzzFeedNews focusing on technology and human rights. I’ll be reporting from the Middle East and beyond. I’m looking forward to continuing to report on tech companies, authoritarianism, surveillance & other issues,” Rajagopalan said on Twitter.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said in an Aug. 22 tweet that it had learned Rajagopalan had been refused a new long-term visa by the Chinese authorities, and is therefore “is being forced to take up a new assignment.” The FCCC called the Indian-American journalist, as a board member “who has conducted herself according to the highest journalistic standards while in China.”

“We find this extremely regrettable and unacceptable for a government that repeatedly insists it welcomes foeign media to cover the country,” the FCCC added.

While Buzzfeed News’s China bureau chief, Rajagopalan was extensively reporting on “how China’s sprawling surveillance state recruits, threaten and intimidate Muslim Uighurs into spying for Beijing and staying silent — even in Europe and the United States. My latest, based on first-hand accounts, text messages and audio recordings,” according to one of her tweets last month.

She also tweeted, “I also want to make clear that though I can’t do it from inside China anymore, I’m not going to stop reporting on and speaking about state surveillance, repression and incarceration of millions of Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. — Megha Rajagopalan (@meghara) August 22, 2018

In the past, Chinese authorities have tried to prevent journalists from covering such issues and denied visas to an Al-Jazeera television reporter and a French magazine journalist, according to news reports.

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