Beijing Forces the Last Indian Reporter to Leave China this Month

Chinese authorities have told the Press Trust of India (PTI) reporter to leave the country - the last Indian reporter in China. This action will wipe out Indian media's presence in the second most populated nation.

The instructions came as China has been refusing to renew the visa renewals of Indian reporters, which it says is a response to the Indian government's denial of visa renewals for Chinese reporters.

At the start of this year, there were four Indian reporters stationed in China, of which one from the Hindustan Times left for the weekend, and two from Prasar Bharti and The Hindu were denied visa renewals.

The Chinese government, like always, through its state media and mouthpiece Global Times has spread fake allegations that the Chinese reporters in India are facing difficulties and limitations by the Indian government.

To which the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi replied, "All foreign journalists, including Chinese journalists, have been pursuing journalistic activities in India without any limitations or difficulties in reporting or doing media coverage". The truth is that China always puts restrictions on journalists. The authoritarian government controls what to publish and what not to in the media. The government has a long list of mouthpieces, including the Global Times.

The CCP (China Communist Party) also limits free journalism by restricting foreign journalists from reporting in China. The journalists are constantly under heavy watch and limited to visiting certain parts and regions.

China announced in March 2020 that it would expel American journalists working for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China justified it by saying its decisions “are entirely necessary and reciprocal countermeasures that China is compelled to take in response to the unreasonable oppression the Chinese media organizations experience in the U.S”. The statement also accused the United States of “exclusively targeting Chinese media organizations,” adding that it was “driven by a Cold War mentality.”

In May 2012, Al-Jazeera’s only English-language reporter in China, Melissa Chan, was expelled as she was accused of some unspecified violations. Again in 2014, the New York Times reporter Austin Ramzy was forced to leave China because of processing delays for his press credentials.

The question arises as to why India is not renewing the visas of Chinese journalists. The answer is straightforward; Chinese journalists in India are reported to be present in all kinds of activities except journalism, including protests and anti-government acts. The Indian Government took the decision not to extend the visas of the three Xinhua News Agency journalists over an alleged suspicion that the latter had impersonated other people to access several restricted departments in Delhi and Mumbai and had also allegedly met with exiled Tibetan activists in violation of existing prohibitive protocol.

China has always complained regarding its journalists in overseas nations face difficulties and restrictions, but every country has denied such allegations. It is China which, has been restricting journalists to report in Wuhan and Xinjiang provinces of China. If China needs fair treatment for its journalists overseas, - which they get - China needs to do the same to the foreign journalists in its country.