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‘No word on visas’; Canada’s public broadcaster closes China bureau

As China shut down in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic in 2020, the final correspondent for the broadcaster departed Beijing. According to CBC, Chinese officials have been silent about the organization’s requests for months. The office had been open in anticipation of re-staffing and was situated in one of Beijing’s high-security diplomatic compounds. Calls to the bureau’s number, which was made public by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, remained unanswered as well.

The US sought Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of the company’s founder, on suspicion of fraud. They were returned to Canada in September, the day Meng, who had made a deal with US authorities in her case, left for China. While China has characterised the accusations against Huawei and Meng as a politically motivated effort to impede China’s economic and technical progress, many other nations have referred to China’s actions as ‘hostage politics’. Huawei equipment cannot be installed by wireless providers in Canada’s fast 5G networks. China has tightened restrictions on international media’s access while stepping up its own overseas propaganda efforts.

The approach is consistent with its relationship with the US and other Western democracies, which is becoming more antagonistic. After Washington reduced the number of visas granted to state media journalists, China accuses the US of escalating tensions. In Taiwan and other Asiatic cities that uphold free speech, several Western media sources have reporters located there. ‘ Closing the Beijing bureau is the last thing we want to do, but our hand has been forced,’ said the editor-in-chief of CBC News.

After officials declined to issue a Canadian journalist a visa, Canada will no longer have a permanent media presence in China. Due to China’s officials’ disregard for his applications, Philippe Leblanc will do business from Taiwan’s capital, Taipei. Since more than 40 years, the Canadian broadcaster won’t be in China for the first time.

The Globe and Mail’s Asia reporter is based in Hong Kong as a result of his inability to obtain a China visa. Beijing views the international press as an extension of the policies of their home nations, regardless of ownership or degrees of official control, and the Communist Party rigorously regulates the media in China. A request for comment from the Chinese Foreign Ministry did not receive a prompt response.


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