With no word on visas, Canada's CBC closes China bureau

By AP News

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Canada's public broadcaster CBC says it is closing its China bureau after the Chinese government ignored requests to base a reporter in Beijing

BEIJING (AP) — Canada’s public broadcaster CBC says it is closing its China bureau after the Chinese government ignored requests to base a reporter in Beijing.

CBC said its applications had been met “by months-long silence from Chinese officials.” The broadcaster’s last correspondent left Beijing as China closed down amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

The bureau, located in one of Beijing’s high-security diplomatic compounds, had remained open in anticipation of re-staffing.

China has taken an increasingly hard line in foreign relations, and ties with Canada nose-dived after China, the U.S. and Canada completed what was effectively a high-stakes prisoner swap last year involving a top executive from Chinese tech giant Huawei who had been charged with fraud by the U.S.

China jailed two Canadians shortly after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, Huawei Technologies’ chief financial officer and the daughter of the company’s founder, on a U.S. extradition request. They were sent back to Canada in September, the same day Meng returned to China after reaching a deal with U.S. authorities in her case.

Many countries labeled China’s action “hostage politics,” while China has described the charges against Huawei and Meng as a politically motivated attempt to hold back China’s economic and technological development.

Canada has also banned wireless carriers from installing Huawei equipment in its high-speed 5G networks, joining allies in shunning the company that has close links with the ruling Communist Party and its military wing, the People’s Liberation Army.

China has increasingly restricted the presence of foreign media in the country while boosting its own propaganda presence abroad. The stance is in keeping with its increasingly confrontational relationship with the U.S. and Western democracies over trade, human rights and territorial claims.

After being denied visas, many foreign media outlets have based correspondents in Taiwan and other Asian centers that protect free speech.

“There is no point keeping an empty bureau when we could easily set up elsewhere in a different country that welcomes journalists and respects journalistic scrutiny,” CBC News editor-in-chief Brodie Fenlon said Wednesday in a blog post.

“Closing the Beijing bureau is the last thing we want to do, but our hand has been forced,” Fenlon said.

CBC said Philippe Leblanc, a journalist with Radio-Canada, the broadcaster's French-language counterpart, would work from Taiwan's capital, Taipei, after China's diplomats ignored his applications.

China’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Author: AP News

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