Beyond the expulsions of the Journal reporters, the Chinese government has repeatedly allowed the visas of correspondents whose work is perceived as unfriendly to lapse, forcing them to leave the country.
A report released Monday by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China pointed to another Wall Street Journal journalist who in the past year was in effect forced to leave. He had written about potential ties between organized crime and a cousin of President Xi Jinping of China.
The report said that in at least five other cases, the Chinese government had similarly declined to renew resident journalists’ long-term visas. Reporters formerly from Al Jazeera English and The Guardian confirmed to The New York Times that the government had declined to grant them new visas, without explanation, ending for all intents and purposes their careers as journalists in China.
The report, titled “Control, Halt, Delete: Reporting in China Under Threat of Expulsion,” also focused on what it characterized as a ramped-up practice of issuing truncated long-term visas — ones that must be renewed after a short period in an onerous process that also implicates visa-holders’ family members in the country. The report called this a means of harassing journalists and sending the not-so-subtle message that the Chinese government was displeased with their reporting, whether it concerned Mr. Xi, protests in Hong Kong or the treatment of ethnic minorities.
In all, the report concluded, at least a dozen correspondents received visas for six months or less in 2019, compared with five the year before. The standard length for a long-term journalist visa, known as a J-1, is one year.
“Chinese authorities are using visas as weapons against the foreign press like never before, expanding their deployment of a longtime intimidation tactic as working conditions for foreign journalists in China severely deteriorated in 2019,” said the report, which was based on a survey of more than 100 journalists in China from 25 countries.
Frédéric Lemaître, a China-based correspondent for the French newspaper Le Monde, said in an email that he was on his second consecutive three-month visa after he wrote a series about Mr. Xi. Mr. Lemaître said an official in the press office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had told him, “You are our guest, and in China, guests must respect the host.”