BuzzFeed reporter in China says ministry has declined to renew her visa

BEIJING (Reuters) - The Chinese government has declined to renew the visa of a reporter for the U.S. website BuzzFeed, the reporter said.

Megha Rajagopalan said on Twitter on Wednesday that the foreign ministry declined in May to issue her a new journalist visa, after working in China as a journalist for “six wonderful and eye-opening years”.

“China’s Foreign Ministry declined to issue me a new journalist visa. They say this is a process thing, we are not totally clear why,” she wrote in a post.

Rajagopalan worked for Reuters in China from 2012 to 2016.

Her BuzzFeed coverage has included reporting on China’s security clampdown in the western Xinjiang region. She said she would be taking on a new role reporting from the Middle East.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang, asked about Rajagopalan, said the government handled visas for foreign reporters in accordance with its laws and rules. He did not elaborate.

BuzzFeed referred Reuters to Rajagopalan’s tweets.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said in a statement the government’s decision was regrettable.

“We find this extremely regrettable and unacceptable for a government that repeatedly insists it welcomes foreign media to cover the country,” it said.

“We are attempting to get clarity from the Foreign Ministry on its reasoning for effectively ejecting a credentialled foreign journalist from China and will relay any information they provide.”

Resident foreign reporters are generally issued visas that must be renewed every year. The government has occasionally in the past declined to renew or grant new visas for foreign reporters whose stories it has not liked.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel