Chinese government criticised after decision to remove press credentials of French journalist

Ursula Gauthier says she was told she would have to leave if she did not make a public apology

chinese, government, criticised, press, credentials, french, journalist, ursula, gauthier

French journalist Ursula Gauthier, a reporter for the French news magazine L'Obs, holds a statement criticizing her from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs as she sits at her desk in her apartment in Beijing. Image: Mark Schiefelbein / AP/Press Association Images

The Chinese government has been criticised after a decision was made to remove the press credentials of a French journalist who refused to apologise for an article.

The complaints centre around an article written by Ursula Gauthier in the French magazine L'Obs, which looked at the Chinese response to the terrorist attacks in France and violence in the Chinese region of Xinjiang.

Official Chinese news agency Xinhaunet reports that foreign affairs ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Ms Gauthier "had offended the Chinese people with an article published on Nov 18 in which she overtly voiced support for terrorist activities.

"In the article, she blamed government policy in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region for terrorist attacks," he added.

He also confirmed that the ministry have refused to renew her press credentials.

Speaking to AFP, Gauthier said that authorities "confirmed that if I did not make a public apology on all the points that had 'hurt the Chinese people'... my press card would not be renewed and I would have to leave on December 31".

Gauthier has received support from French officials, with Fleur Pellerin, minister for culture and communication, writing on Twitter that their country remains committed to defending "freedom of expression and information".

Chinese authorities have also been criticised by the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China, who said in a statement that "receiving criticism is a normal and necessary part of journalistic work, but this is neither proportionate nor reasonable. Insinuating that Ms Gauthier supports terrorism is a particularly egregious personal and professional affront with no basis in fact".