News network Al Jazeera is closing its Beijing bureau, because Chinese authorities are refusing to renew an Al Jazeera correspondent's press credentials and visa, or even approve another journalist, the networked stated today.
The reason? According to China-based website ShanghaiIst, it is apparently related to a documentary Al Jazeera did last fall on slave labor. In it, Al Jazeera focused on Chinese slave labor prison camps known as "The Laogai" that supposedly forces prisoners to make everything from Christmas lights to Homer Simpson slippers. The documentary even contained footage of what is apparently a "Laogai" slave labor camp.
The Al Jazeera correspondent, Melissa Chan, has been the network's English correspondent in China since 2007 and has filed approximately 400 reports. This is China's first expulsion of a journalist since 1998, and Al Jazeera is trying to work with the Chinese government to reopen the bureau.
"Our editorial DNA includes covering all stories from all sides. We constantly cover the voice of the voiceless and sometimes that calls for tough news coverage from anywhere in world," said Salah Negm, director of news at Al Jazeera English, earlier today in an official statement.
"We are committed to our coverage of China," Negm continued. "Just as China news services cover the world freely we would expect that same freedom in China for any Al Jazeera journalist."
Whatever the reason for Chan's expulsion, this isn't about what Al Jazeera expects. It's about what the Chinese government expects.