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China expels Wall Street Journal reporter over coverage of Xi’s family

BEIJING — China effectively expelled a Wall Street Journal reporter, one month after the newspaper published a report detailing allegations that a cousin of Chinese leader Xi Jinping was involved in high-stakes gambling and potential money laundering in Australia.

Chinese authorities told the Journal on Friday that press credentials would not be renewed for Chun Han Wong, a Singapore national who has covered Chinese politics out of the paper’s Beijing bureau since 2014. Those credentials expired Friday.

China sometimes withholds or refuses visas to punish international news organizations for what the ruling Communist Party perceives as unfavorable coverage. But the decision amounted to the first time that the Chinese government has effectively banned a reporter from the Journal, a publication generally known for evenhanded coverage of China.

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Wong was one of two authors of a July 30 report disclosing an Australian law-enforcement and intelligence probe into Ming Chai, one of Xi’s cousins and an Australian citizen. The report, citing Australian officials and casino documents, detailed Chai’s lavish spending in resorts owned by the gambling mogul James Packer, and Chai’s links to what Australian officials deemed to be a money-laundering front in Melbourne.

The story noted there were no indications Xi knew about his cousin’s activities or that the Chinese leader was implicated in any wrongdoing. Still, Beijing considers the private wealth of top leaders’ families to be the most sensitive and taboo reporting subject of all, given the chasm between the Communist Party’s ideological rhetoric and the vast, often hidden wealth accrued by elite families since the party turned toward state capitalism in the 1980s.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said Wong was the sixth journalist to leave China under such circumstances since 2013.

Washington Post