China denies visa, expels WSJ reporter after report on Jinping’s cousin

Beijing: Chinese authorities have declined to renew the press credentials of a Beijing-based Wall Street Journal reporter, effectively expelling a journalist who extensively covered President Xi Jinping and Communist Party politics.

The de facto expulsion Friday of Singaporean reporter Chun Han Wong comes one month after he and another WSJ reporter wrote a story detailing an Australian investigation into the alleged links of Xi’s cousin to high-stakes gambling, money laundering and suspected organized crime.

“We resolutely oppose certain foreign journalists’ evil intention to smear and attack China,” China’s foreign ministry said in a faxed response to questions about Wong’s status.

The statement added that such journalists are “not welcome.”

Dow Jones, the WSJ’s parent company, said in a statement that authorities declined to renew Wong’s press credentials.

The statement said the company is looking into the matter but did not elaborate. Wong, 33, who has been reporting in China since 2014, declined to comment.

Foreign journalists based in China need valid press credentials in order to renew their journalist visas. A reporter’s visa and press card share the same period of validity and must generally be renewed once a year.

The wealth of Communist Party leaders and their families has long been a taboo subject. Both The New York Times and Bloomberg encountered visa troubles after they reported on the wealth of the families of then-Premier Wen Jiabao and Xi in 2012. Since Xi took power that year, media outlets and various parts of civil society in China have faced tightening restrictions.

Wong is the sixth journalist to leave China under such circumstances since 2013, according to the Foreign Correspondents Club of China.

The FCCC condemned “in the strongest possible terms the use of visa non-renewal as a form of punishment.”

“Such treatment of foreign correspondents runs completely counter to Chinese claims that it supports openness and inclusiveness,” it said in a statement.