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

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BEIJING (AP) — Canadian public broadcaster CBC said it was closing its bureau in China after the Chinese government ignored requests to base a reporter in Beijing.

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

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The office, located in one of Beijing’s high-security diplomatic compounds, had remained open in anticipation of staff turnover.

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On Thursday, a plaque identifying the office remained posted on the outside wall but no one answered the knocks and doorbells. Calls to the office number published by the Chinese Foreign Ministry also went unanswered.

China has taken an increasingly hard line in its foreign relations, and ties with Canada have plunged after China, the United States and Canada completed what was effectively a high-stakes prisoner swap. last year involving a senior executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei who had been indicted. with fraud by the United States

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

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Many countries called China’s action a “hostage policy,” while China described the charges against Huawei and Meng as a politically motivated attempt to curb China’s economic and technological development.

Canada has also banned mobile carriers from installing Huawei equipment in its high-speed 5G networks, joining allies in avoiding the company which has close ties to 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 strengthening its own propaganda presence abroad. This position is consistent with its increasingly confrontational relationship with the United States and Western democracies over trade, human rights and land claims.

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China accuses the United States of stoking tensions after Washington scrapped 20 visas issued to Chinese state media journalists and required those who remained to register as foreign agents, among other changes.

China reacted by expelling journalists working for American media and severely restricting the conditions of those who continue to work in the country.

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

“There’s no point in keeping an office empty when we could easily set up shop somewhere else in another country that welcomes journalists and respects journalistic scrutiny,” CBC News editor Brodie Fenlon said Wednesday in a blog post.

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“Closing the Beijing office 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 the Taiwanese capital, Taipei, after Chinese diplomats ignored his applications.

Canada now joins Australia in no longer having a permanent media presence in the country following diplomatic disputes. The Asia correspondent of the Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail is based in Hong Kong because he was unable to obtain a visa for China.

Chinese media is tightly controlled by the Communist Party, and Beijing sees the foreign press as an extension of their home country’s policies, regardless of state ownership and levels of control.

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



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