China said Saturday that it will not renew press credentials for a French journalist, effectively expelling her following a harsh media campaign against her for questioning the official line equating ethnic violence in China's western Muslim region with global terrorism.
Expecting the move, Ursula Gauthier, a longtime journalist for the French news magazine L'Obs, said late Friday night that she was prepared to leave China.
Once she departs on Dec. 31, she will become the first foreign journalist forced to leave China since 2012, when American Melissa Chan, then working for Al Jazeera in Beijing, was expelled.
"They want a public apology for things that I have not written," Gauthier said. "They are accusing me of writing things that I have not written."
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said that Gauthier was no longer "suitable" to be allowed to work in China because she had supported "terrorism and cruel acts" that killed civilians and refused to apologize for her words.
"China has always protected the legal rights of foreign media and foreign correspondents to report within the country, but China does not tolerate the freedom to embolden terrorism," Lu said in a statement.
View galleryFrench journalist Ursula Gauthier, a reporter for the … French journalist Ursula Gauthier, a reporter for the French news magazine L'Obs, holds a statem … Gauthier on Saturday called the accusations "absurd," and said that emboldening terrorism is morally and legally wrong. "I should be legally persecuted if that's the case," she said.
"All this is rhetoric," Gauthier said. "It's only meant to deter foreign correspondents in the future in Beijing."