China has expelled French journalist Ursula Gauthier over an article she wrote that was critical of Beijing’s policy towards Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.
Beijing confirmed it would not renew press credentials for Ursula Gauthier, of the French news magazine L’Obs.
It said an article Ursula Gauthier wrote about the unrest in Xinjiang supported “terrorism and cruel acts” that had killed people.
Ursula Gauthier called the claims “absurd” and said Beijing was trying to deter foreign reporters in the country.
If her press card is not renewed, Ursula Gauthier cannot apply for a new visa, and will have to leave China by December 31.
Ursula Gauthier would be the first foreign journalist to be expelled since al-Jazeera correspondent Melissa Chan in 2012.
China blames the long-running unrest in western autonomous Xinjiang region on Islamist separatists, many of whom it says have foreign ties.
However, Xinjiang’s ethnic Uighurs, most of whom are Muslim, say Beijing’s repression of their religious and cultural customs is provoking the violence.
Ursula Gauthier published her article after the attacks in Paris in November, suggesting China’s solidarity with France might have an ulterior motive – to justify its own crackdowns in Xinjiang.
The article triggered condemnation from the Chinese government and state media, which demanded an apology and retraction from her.
China’s foreign ministry confirmed on December 26 it would not renew Ursula Gauthier’s press card, saying she had failed to make a “serious apology” to the Chinese people and was no longer “suitable” to continue working in the country.
“China will never support the freedom to champion terrorism,” the ministry said.
The foreign ministry complained of what bit termed a double standard, whereby tough action in the West was called anti-terrorism but in China was described as the repression of ethnic minorities.
Thirteen people have been executed for “terrorist attacks” in Xinjiang province, western China, state media say.
The 13 – who reportedly include Muslim ethnic Uighurs – were accused over seven cases including attacks in June 2013 that killed 24 people.
It comes as three other men – who reports say also appear to be Uighurs – were sentenced over a fatal car crash in Beijing last year.
Beijing has blamed Uighur groups for several attacks across the country.
Those executed on Monday had been charged with crimes including “participating in terrorist groups; murder; arson; theft; and illegal manufacture, storage and transportation of explosives”, state-run news agency Xinhua said.
Thirteen people have been executed for terrorist attacks in Xinjiang province
The report named three defendants who were convicted of attacking a police station, hotel, government building and other venues in Lukqun, Xinjiang province, on June 26.
The attack killed 24 police officers and civilians and injured 23 others, Xinhua added.
Verifying reports from the Xinjiang region is difficult because the flow of information is tightly controlled.
Also on Monday, three men were given death sentences in connection with a crash in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square last October, when a car ploughed into a crowd.
Two tourists and three people in the car were killed. Dozens of others were injured.
Xinhua news agency said Husanjan Wuxur, Yusup Umarniyaz and Yusup Ahmat were guilty of “organizing and leading a terrorist group and endangering public security”.
Five others were given jail sentences.
Reports said several of those sentenced or executed on Monday appeared to be from Xinjiang’s Uighur ethnic minority, based on their names.
Beijing has blamed Uighur separatists for a string of attacks around China, including deadly bomb and knife attacks on railway stations in Urumqi in Xinjiang, and Kunming in south-west China.
Uighur leaders deny that they are coordinating a terrorist campaign.
Activists have accused Beijing of exaggerating the threat from Uighur separatists in order to justify a crackdown on the Uighurs’ religious and cultural freedoms.
Correspondents say Uighurs, who number around 9 million, have long complained of repression under Chinese rule – an accusation Beijing denies.
Chinese police captured three suspects involved in Saturday’s deadly mass knife attack at Kunming railway station, state media report.
Several men and women burst into the south-western city’s railway station stabbing people at random, leaving 29 dead and wounding more than 130.
Officials have blamed separatists from the Xinjiang region for the attack.
Four attackers were shot dead by police at the scene, officials say. An injured female suspect was reportedly detained.
Citing a statement from the Ministry of Public Security, Xinhua news agency said six men and two women, led by a person identified as Abdurehim Kurban, were responsible for the attack.
There were no details about how the suspects were identified and captured.
Chinese police captured three suspects involved in Saturday’s deadly mass knife attack at Kunming railway station
Officials say that evidence, such as insignia recovered from the station about “East Turkestan”, points to the involvement of separatists from Xinjiang – a region in the far west of China bordering Central Asia.
China’s security chief, Meng Jianzhu, has vowed “all-out efforts” to “severely punish terrorists”.
Eyewitnesses described horrific scenes on Saturday, saying that in just 12 minutes attackers used curved swords and meat cleavers to stab people at random as they rampaged through the station.
A memorial for the victims has been set up at Kunming station’s concourse
Kunming is the capital of China’s Yunnan province. On Monday, security was tight, with a heavy police presence at Kunming station and surrounding areas.
Xinjiang is home to the Muslim Uighur minority group. Recent months have seen several violent incidents there which the government has blamed on extremists. Verifying these reports is difficult because foreign journalists’ access to the region is tightly controlled.
China is often accused of exaggerating the threat of Islamist terrorism to justify its harsh security crackdown in Xinjiang and the restrictions it places on the religion and culture of the Uighurs.
Chinese separatists Uighur Muslims from the north-western Xinjiang region are blamed for the mass knife attack at Kunming railway station that left 29 people dead and at least 130 wounded, officials said.
A group of attackers, dressed in black, burst into the station in the south-west city of Kunming and began stabbing people at random.
Images from the scene posted online showed bodies lying in pools of blood.
State news agency Xinhua said police shot at least four suspects dead.
A female suspect was arrested and is being treated in hospital for unspecified injuries while a search continues for others who fled the scene.
Authorities described the incident as an “organized, premeditated, violent terrorist attack”.
The Kunming city government later said that evidence from the scene pointed to separatists from Xinjiang as being behind the attack.
It gave no details and the claim could not be verified.
Chinese separatists Uighur Muslims are blamed for the mass knife attack at Kunming railway station
Some of Xinjiang’s minority Uighur Muslims want autonomy from Chinese rule and an end to state suppression of their religion.
Witnesses in Kunming said those who couldn’t run quickly were cut down by the attackers’ knives.
A survivor named Yang Haifei, who was wounded in the back and chest, told Xinhua he had been buying a train ticket when the attackers rushed into the station.
“I saw a person come straight at me with a long knife and I ran away with everyone,” he said.
First reports said the attackers were only men, but witnesses and police later said the group also included women.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and PM Li Keqiang sent condolences to the victims and their families.
President Xi Jinping urged “all-out efforts” to investigate the attack.
“Severely punish in accordance with the law the violent terrorists and resolutely crack down on those who have been swollen with arrogance,” Xinhua quoted the president as saying.
The incident comes a few days before the opening of China’s annual parliamentary session, the National People’s Congress.
Two suspects have been named by Beijing police after a deadly car crash in Tiananmen Square, state media report.
The vehicle crashed into a crowd and burst into flames, killing five people.
Police subsequently issued a notice to hotels in Beijing seeking information about two people from Xinjiang province, Chinese media said.
The note also described a vehicle and four number plates from Xinjiang, the scene of sporadic violent incidents.
State-run Xinhua news agency said of the five people who died on Monday, three people died inside the car and two tourists were killed. Another 38 people were injured.
Police shut down the scene of the incident – at the north end of the square at an entrance to the Forbidden City – shortly after it occurred, temporarily closing a subway station and a road.
There has been no official statement on the cause of the incident.
Five people died on Monday in Tiananmen Square car crash
“A major case has taken place on Monday,” the police notice said, without specifying what. It named two residents from Xinjiang’s Pishan and Shanshan counties as suspects.
The notice, unconfirmed images of which have been widely circulated on Chinese social media, also asked hotels to look out for “suspicious guests” and vehicles.
China’s state-controlled Global Times said it had confirmation from the Beijing police that the notice was genuine, although police did not comment on the “major case” itself.
Zhao Fuzhou, a security official at Beijing’s Xinjiang Dasha hotel, said that police had circulated a notice to hotels searching for information about two suspects with Uighur names, AP news agency reported.
Xinjiang is home to the minority Muslim Uighur group, some of whom complain of cultural and religious repression under Beijing’s rule. There have been sporadic outbreaks of violence in Xinjiang, including both Pishan and Shanshan counties.
China says it grants the Uighurs wide-ranging freedoms.
On Monday a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said she did not know “specifics” about the incident. The country’s main state-run news agency, Xinhua, on Monday offered no reason for the incident but said police were investigating.
Tiananmen Square is a highly sensitive site due to its link to China’s 1989 pro-democracy protests, which were ended by a military crackdown.
The square is generally kept under very tight security both because of its proximity to key political institutions and so that is does not serve as a hub for protesters and petitioners, although incidents have nonetheless occurred there before.
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