CBC News announces closure of China bureau

Beijing financial district (Image Credit: Alamy)

CBC News has announced the closure of the public broadcaster’s China bureau, citing its inability to secure visas for its journalists from the Chinese government to work as permanent correspondents.

Brodie Fenlon, CBC News’ Editor-in-Chief and Executive Director of Programs and Standards, outlined the broadcaster’s ongoing efforts to facilitate coverage abroad in a blog post published Wednesday.

CBC has had a China bureau for 40 years, however its last Beijing correspondent, Saša Petricic, returned to Canada as the pandemic took hold. Its journalists have only returned for the 2022 Winter Olympics, under heavily restricted conditions.

While efforts have been made since 2020 to obtain a visa for Radio-Canada Info reporter Philippe Leblanc, Fenlon says despite numerous exchanges and requests for meetings over the last two years there is still no visa.

Philippe Leblanc

“While there was no dramatic expulsion or pointed public statements, the effect is the same. We can’t get visas for our journalists to work there as permanent correspondents,” wrote Fenlon. “There is no point keeping an empty bureau when we could easily set up elsewhere in a different country that welcomes journalists and respects journalistic scrutiny. Closing the Beijing bureau is the last thing we want to do, but our hand has been forced.”

Leblanc will instead work from Taiwan for the next two years.

CBC journalists in Russia were also stripped of their credentials earlier this year after a crackdown on what could be reported about the country’s invasion of Ukraine, and in part, a response to Canada’s move to cancel domestic distribution of Russian state television broadcaster, RT. Briar Stewart and producer Corinne Seminoff continue to cover Russia from outside the country.

In the meantime, CBC has established a bureau in India, staffed by reporter Salimah Shivji and video producer Glen Kugelstadt, who will cover the wider South Asian region from Mumbai.

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