Canadas public broadcaster CBC closes Beijing office News from

Canada’s public broadcaster CBC closes Beijing office | News from politics

CBC says it “cannot get visas for journalists” to work in China as permanent correspondents, leading to the bureau’s closure.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has announced that it will close its office in China after more than four decades, citing an ongoing, year-long wait for its reporters in Beijing to get work visas.

Editor-in-chief Brodie Fenlon said in a blog post on Wednesday that CBC’s French-language service, Radio-Canada Info, applied for a visa for its correspondent in Beijing in October 2020.

“Despite numerous talks with the Chinese consulate in Montreal and requests for meetings over the past two years, there is still no visa,” he said, adding that the CBC correspondent is in the Chinese capital following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic returned to Canada has not returned.

“Although there was no dramatic eviction or targeted public statements, the effect is the same. We can’t get our journalists visas to work there as permanent correspondents,” Fenlon said.

“There’s no point in keeping an empty office when we could easily settle elsewhere in another country that welcomes journalists and respects journalistic scrutiny.”

The move comes after Russia announced in May that it would shut down CBC’s Moscow office in response to the Canadian government’s decision to ban Russian broadcaster Russia Today amid the war in Ukraine.

Canada’s relations with Russia and China have been tested in recent years, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regularly opposing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s human rights record, respectively.

Tensions between Ottawa and Beijing rose in June when Canada accused China of harassing its planes while conducting United Nations sanctions patrols near North Korea. The Chinese government responded by accusing the Canadian military of “provocation” and warning Canada it could face “serious consequences.”

Meanwhile, human rights groups have been sounding the alarm about press freedom in China for years.

An annual survey by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China released in late January concluded that media freedom in the country was deteriorating at a “breakneck speed”. Reporters Without Borders, a global media watchdog, also warned last year that China continues to push internet censorship, surveillance and propaganda to “unprecedented levels”.

Last week, the United States also condemned the fraud conviction of Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, warning that human rights protections in China were deteriorating and its once-buoyant press was “all but gone”.

The Chinese embassy in Ottawa on Wednesday did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Portal news agency on CBC’s decision.

“Closing the Beijing office is the last thing we want to do, but we were forced to do it. Our commitment to China and East Asia coverage is unwavering. We will begin finding a new home base in the coming months,” Fenlon said in the blog post.

“We hope that one day China will open up to our journalists again, just as we hope that one day Russia will reconsider its decision to expel us.”

Sasa Petricic, CBC’s last permanent correspondent in Beijing, said he hoped the Canadian broadcaster could return to China because “it stays there [the] best way” to tell the story.

“In the 5th [years] I was there, official roadblocks made it increasingly difficult to report, and Beijing [was] not responded to the issuance of new visas to CBC,” Petricic wrote on Twitter.