India has expelled three journalists of the Chinese official news agency, Xinhua, by not extending their visa, which is usually done without hassles unless the host country wants to send a signal of ill-feeling. One of the three journalists include a woman who studied at JNU before joining Xinhua.
The journalists are — Wu Qiang bureau head in New Delhi, Lu Tang, head of Xinhua’s bureau in Mumbai and She Yonggang, reporter in Mumbai. While they were asked to leave by July 31. Lu Tang graduated in International Relations from New Delhi’s Jawahar Lal Nehru University.
While no official reason could be cited, apprently they had come under the “adverse attention of security agencies” for allegedly indulging in activities beyond their journalistic brief, which literally means spying.
However, the move will not ask Xinhua to wind up its operations but replace the 3 journalists, said a source to media.
Mohan Guruswamy, chairman of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, told HT that the move is unwarranted.“Lu Tang, whom many of you FB users might recognise and who has done so much to provide China’s opinion makers with a better understanding of India is among the three Chinese journalists not to get their work visas extended.”
He said it would invite similar adverse reaction from China. “We can now expect some tit for tat for no rhyme or reason. If Indian scribes are turned out of China we too will lose our eyes and ears in that country. Not extending visas of journalists is a needless aggravation. I am sure the [Ministry of External Affairs] would be clueless about this as this is now under the exclusive purview of the largely clueless Ministry of Home Affairs.”
The decision from MHA is seen as a knee-jerk reaction for China’s refusal last month to back India’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
However, China too has expelled journalists in the past for their writings. In December, a French journalist was expelled for writing a piece questioning the government’s handling of the situation in the restive Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
Xinhua works directly under the jurisdiction of the State Council, or the Chinese Cabinet, headed by Premier Li Keqiang. Its photo-service is shared by Indian news outlets including IANS.
The modus operandi of expulsion was that they were asked to wait for renewal of their visas for over six months and on July 15, they were returned their passports without visa extension, which effectively means expulsion.
The issue now is how long will Beijing take to expel 5 Indian journalists based out of Beijing.