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Factbox: Foreign journalists forced to leave China as diplomatic tensions worsen

(Reuters) - Over the past year, numerous foreign reporters working for Western news organisations have been forced to leave China, mostly due to their work permits being revoked or not renewed.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said on Monday a record 17 foreign journalists were expelled from the country in the first half of 2020.

The departures come amid worsening diplomatic ties between China and the United States and its allies over issues ranging from trade to technology and democratic rights in Hong Kong, with Washington and Beijing engaging in a tit-for-tat over journalist credentials.

Below is a list of key events involving foreign journalists based in China:

AUGUST 2019

China did not renew journalist credentials for Chun Han Wong, a Singapore national who worked for the Wall Street Journal in Beijing.

Wong had written a story about the activities of one of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s cousins in Australia.

FEBRUARY

China revoked the press credentials of three Wall Street Journal journalists after the newspaper declined to apologise for an opinion column calling China the “real sick man of Asia.”

The journalists were U.S. citizens Josh Chin and Chao Deng and Australian citizen Philip Wen.

Beijing’s move came after Washington said it would begin treating five Chinese state-run media entities with U.S. operations the same as it does foreign embassies.

MARCH

China withdrew the press credentials of about a dozen journalists at the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.

The expulsions followed Washington’s move to slash the number of journalists permitted to work in the United States at four Chinese state media outlets to 100, from 160 previously.

AUGUST

Australian citizen and Chinese state television anchor Cheng Lei was detained by Chinese authorities.

Cheng hosted a business show and was a high-profile anchor on English-language channel CGTN. Videos of her were removed from Chinese state media websites.

SEPT. 7

China did not renew the expiring press credentials of journalists at U.S. outlets including Bloomberg, CNN and the Wall Street Journal.

Instead, the journalists were issued letters allowing them to continue working in China with their expired press credentials for about two months.

The move came as Chinese journalists in the United States wait for their lapsed work visas to be renewed. The Chinese journalists have been allowed to stay in the United States during a 90-day grace period that expires in early November.

Among the journalists at U.S. outlets were the Wall Street Journal’s Jeremy Page, who is British, American CNN reporter David Culver, and two non-American Bloomberg journalists.

SEPT. 8

Two Australian journalists in China were rushed home after they were questioned by authorities.

Australian Broadcasting Corp.’s Bill Birtles and the Australian Financial Review’s Michael Smith had been banned from leaving China until they answered questions about Cheng Lei.

Reporting by Beijing bureau and Kirsty Needham in Sydney; Writing by Sam Holmes; Editing by Richard Pullin

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