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Monday, January 4, 2016

Expelled Journalist Worries What’s Ahead For Reporters In China

Ursula Gauthier, the Beijing-based correspondent for French news magazine L'Obs, works at her desk in her apartment in Beijing on December 26, 2015. China confirmed the imminent expulsion of Gauthier in the first such case since 2012, accusing her of "flagrantly championing" terrorist acts in a statement on its foreign ministry's website on December 26. (Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)

Ursula Gauthier, the Beijing-based correspondent for French news magazine L’Obs, works at her desk in her apartment in Beijing on December 26, 2015. China confirmed the imminent expulsion of Gauthier in the first such case since 2012, accusing her of “flagrantly championing” terrorist acts in a statement on its foreign ministry’s website on December 26. (Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)

Ursula Gauthier has lived in China since 2009 as the Beijing correspondent for the French magazine, L’Obs. But this past December, after writing a story suggesting that China was using the terrorist attacks in Paris to crack down on its Uigher population, her visa was not renewed.

From the first day her article came out, Gauthier told Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti, the Chinese nationalist press “immediately accused me of supporting terrorism and being anti-Chinese but I was just explaining that there was a horrendous situation in some of the minority areas.”

“I feel very sad not being able to do reports on the field, as I used to do,” Gauthier said. “Policies didn’t really encourage that, but I could manage, and now I will write about China from the outside.”

Interview Highlights: Ursula Gauthier

On her conflict with the government

“After the Paris attacks, very quickly the Chinese government declared publicly that China also was under attack from international terrorism and they gave an example that was a ​specific attack which had taken place two months earlier in Xinjiang. They said that that was a terrorist attack. But they had never spoken about this attack before the Paris attacks, and if it were really a terrorist attack it would have been everywhere. So I just analyzed what they said and I said this is typically not a terrorist attack. This is a local conflict—very ugly, very bloody, but it doesn’t belong to the terrorist category, and that’s why they were angry at me.”

On the Chinese government’s broad definition of terrorism

“For Tibet even people who burn themselves to death are considered by China to be terrorists, so their own definition of terror is very wide. It includes anyone who criticizes the state’s policy.”

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