The Journal’s Chun Han Wong, a Singaporean national who had worked in Beijing since 2014, had his visa renewal denied on Friday. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it “opposes individual foreign reporters who maliciously smear and attack China. These types of reporters are not welcome.”
The charge comes from a July 30 piece Wong co-authored with Phillip Wen titled “Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Cousin Draws Scrutiny of Australian Authorities,” with the tag line, “Ming Chai, who has been a high-stakes gambler, is on radar of investigators probing organized crime, money laundering and alleged Chinese influence-peddling.”
The report’s contents are basically what it says on the tin: Xi’s 61-year-old cousin, an Australian citizen, is being investigated by the Australian Federal Police for a litany of financial crimes that center around allegedly laundering money for mobsters and high-stakes casino game aficionados.
“There is no indication that Mr. Xi did anything to advance Mr. Chai’s interests, nor that the Chinese leader has any knowledge of his cousin’s business and gambling activities,” the story concedes. “People who know Mr. Chai told the Journal he often flaunted his familial link to Mr. Xi while chasing business opportunities.”
However, the story then tries to pin Xi in a tough spot by noting his own anti-corruption campaign in China called on Communist Party members to rein in their family members and keep them from exploiting their political connections for personal gain.
When Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying was asked about the reports on Chai’s affairs at a July press conference, she called them “groundless accusations based on rumors” and an attempt to “smear China,” the story noted.
Wall Street Journal Editor-in-Chief Matt Murray defended Wong and his reporting in a Friday story about Wong’s press credentials being withdrawn, saying that “our journalism has been fair and accurate. We of course remain committed to covering the important story of China with the usual high standards that our readers expect.”
Generally considered to have a conservative angle in American politics, the Journal is owned by Dow Jones & Company, which operates the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 stock indices at the New York Stock Exchange.
Meanwhile, Australian-Chinese writer and academic Yang Hengjun was arrested in Beijing on Tuesday and charged with espionage on behalf of Canberra. He had been detained in the city since January, but was only formally arrested earlier this week. On Thursday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison denied Yang was engaged in any spying for Australia.