China expels reporter who covered investigation into Xi Jinping's cousin

Xi Jinping
(Image credit: Getty Images)

China is essentially kicking a reporter from The Wall Street Journal out of the country following his coverage of an investigation involving Chinese President Xi Jinping's cousin.

The Journal confirmed Friday that the government-issued press credentials of reporter Chun Han Wong were not renewed; since these credentials are required for his visa, he will be forced to leave China. Wong has been reporting from Beijing since 2014.

Although an official reason for the denial wasn't provided, it came shortly after Wong co-authored a report in the Journal that Australian law enforcement and intelligence officials were looking into President Xi's cousin, Ming Chai, as part of an organized crime, money laundering, and influence-peddling probe.

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"Among other things, police are looking into the alleged 2017 use by the cousin, Ming Chai, now a 61-year-old Australian citizen, of what they describe as a money-laundering front company that has helped gamblers and suspected mobsters move funds in and out of Australia," the July report said. Investigations were also reportedly "trying to uncover the source of money" that Chai used in Melbourne's Crown Casino and looking into his links to a man under investigation for money laundering.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying had dismissed the original report as "groundless accusations," and the Foreign Ministry told The Washington Post on Friday that "we don't welcome" reporters who are "maliciously tarnishing China."

According to repoter Josh Chin, this is the first time China has ever expelled a reporter from the Journal, which the Post notes is known for "incisive but evenhanded coverage of the country." Chinese ministry officials, the Journal says, prior to the July report had warned the outlet "not to publish and warned of unspecified consequences."

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.