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Anti-foreign attitudes bode ill for China correspondents

UPDATE: Clinton must speak up for international press in China (CPJ, 4 September 2012)

(CPJ/IFEX) - May 21, 2012 - The following is a CPJ Blog post:

By Madeline Earp/CPJ Senior Asia Research Associate

The story of Al-Jazeera English correspondent Melissa Chan's expulsion from China has a disturbing coda. "We kicked out that foreign bitch and closed Al-Jazeera's Beijing bureau. We should shut up those who demonize China and send them packing," CCTV talk-show host Yang Rui posted to his personal Weibo account last week. The post was translated late Friday by The Wall Street Journal.

It is troubling enough that the English-speaking figurehead of a show titled "Dialogue" should launch an offensive personal attack against an international colleague. What's even more concerning is that, as the employee of a state media outlet, his comments are apparently sanctioned.

Beijing announced a 100-day crackdown on illegal foreigners - those living or working without visas - last Tuesday, according to the BBC. (Chan and other Al-Jazeera English correspondents were repeatedly denied journalist visas this year, resulting in her departure and the closure of the English bureau; the Arabic bureau remains open.) Yang Rui's comments about Chan appeared the next day, in the context of an unusually extreme rant against "foreign snake heads" coming to China to "grab our money, engage in human trafficking, and spread deceitful lies to encourage emigration."

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