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China forces Al Jazeera to close Beijing news bureau

China refused to renew the visa for Al Jazeera's China reporter. This is the first time an accredited foreign correspondent living in China has been ejected since 1998.

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China has expelled the English language correspondent of Al Jazeera, prompting the Qatar-based channel to close its Beijing bureau, an Al Jazeera spokesman said on Tuesday.

Melissa Chan’s expulsion marks the first time an accredited foreign correspondent living in China has been ejected since 1998.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry did not immediately answer a faxed request for an explanation of the expulsion, but Chinese officials are known to have expressed their anger at a documentary the channel aired last November on the alleged use of slave labor by prisoners in Chinese jails.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told Scandinavian correspondents at a recent private dinner that the documentary had been “fabricated” according to two of the reporters present.

Ms. Chan played no role in making the program, which was produced by Al Jazeera’s London bureau, according to a spokesman for the channel.

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