China has forced al-Jazeera English to shut down its Beijing bureau by kicking out reporter Melissa Chan and refusing to allow another correspondent to replace her. Chan, an American citizen who had reported from Beijing for five years, left China last night after normally routine requests to renew her visa were denied, reports the New York Times. The move is believed to be a response to a documentary about Chinese labor camps that al-Jazeera produced without Chan's involvement, and aired late last year.
The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China slammed the move, calling it a threat to the ability of all foreign reporters to work in China. "This is the most extreme example of a recent pattern of using journalist visas in an attempt to censor and intimidate foreign correspondents in China,” the group said in a statement. "The FCCC believes that foreign news organizations, not the Chinese government, have the right to choose who works for them in China, in line with international standards." Al-Jazeera's Arabic-language operations are unaffected.