China denies visa to BuzzFeed journalist after critical coverage

China denies visa to BuzzFeed journalist after critical coverage
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China has declined to renew a BuzzFeed reporter’s journalism visa in what is believed to be a retaliatory move over her critical coverage of the government's crackdown on Muslim Uighurs. 

Megha Rajagopalan, who worked in Beijing covering China for six years, tweeted Wednesday that she is leaving the country after China’s foreign ministry “declined to issue me a new journalist visa.”

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“They say this is a process thing, we are not totally clear why,” she added in the tweet.

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.

— Megha Rajagopalan (@meghara) August 22, 2018

Beijing has been known to deny renewals of journalism visas when it isn’t happy with coverage.

China’s Foreign Ministry told The Associated Press in a statement Wednesday that it handled Rajagopalan’s case “according to laws and regulations.”

Rajagopalan was based in Beijing as a correspondent for Reuters beginning in 2012 before leaving for BuzzFeed in 2016. During her time in China, she reported on subjects including human rights abuses and state surveillance, and gained notoriety for her reporting on Beijing's crackdown on Uighurs in western Xinjiang Province. 

The country's Uighur minority has been the subject of consistent human rights abuses, according to news outlets and international observers. Beijing has pushed back against the global criticism. 

Rajagopalan, who will remain at BuzzFeed covering technology and human rights, vowed in a tweet Wednesday that she won’t “stop reporting on and speaking about state surveillance, repression and incarceration of millions of Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.”

In a statement Wednesday, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said China’s treatment of Rajagopalan was “extremely regrettable and unacceptable for a government that repeatedly insists it welcomes foreign media to cover the country."