The Chinese embassy has denied a visa to Epoch Times reporter Matthew Little who was scheduled to travel with the Canadian Prime Minister on his trip to China next week.
Little is a full-time reporter at the parliamentary press gallery in Ottawa. The PMO confirmed it had reserved a space for Little and that it was a result of the Chinese embassy’s denying a visa that he will not be able to accompany the PM.
“It’s disappointing but unfortunately not surprising our reporter was not granted a visa,” said Epoch Times Canada Publisher, Cindy Gu. “The Epoch Times has published many articles critical of the Chinese regime, including its repression of basic freedoms. The regime has continually made efforts to block our reporting.”
In recent weeks, Little has published analysis pieces highlighting a growing trend of unrest in China, and that these tensions provide Harper an opportunity to advance the cause of rights in China.
That unrest was recently noted by U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke who told NPR’s Steve Inskeep that the situation in China is “very very delicate.”
“There is a growing frustration among the people over the operations of government, corruption, lack of transparency, and issues that affect the Chinese people on a daily basis that they feel are being neglected,” said Locke.
Locke paid special notice to the situation in the southern Chinese city of Wukan where the locals overthrew the municipal government and forced the regime to address their grievances.
In 2010 Little was also reportedly the cause of the cancellation of a press conference with Chinese leader Hu Jintao when he visited Canada ahead of the G8 and G20 meetings. The Press Gallery noted that the Chinese regime had insisted that the PMO disallow the Epoch Times journalist, but the gallery refused to concede and the press conference ultimately did not take place.
Former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin raised questions with the regime at the time of his trip to China in 2005 after two journalists from New Tang Dynasty Television, an independent TV station that reports widely on the situation in China, had their visas revoked.
“This is a very serious issue, in this country, we believe fully in freedom of the press,” Martin told reporters at the time.
“We continue to ask the government that the visas be accepted and these journalists be allowed to accompany us on the visit.”
The Epoch Times has published the Nine Commentaries, a series of editorials that exposes, the newspaper says, the true nature and history of the Chinese communist party, and has inspired a movement of Chinese renouncing their ties to the party and its affiliated organizations—the communist youth league and communist young pioneers.
The Epoch Times has repeatedly faced efforts to silence its independent voice by the Chinese regime.
Concerns were raised by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) when four unidentified men attacked an Epoch Times office in Hong Kong in 2006. The spokesperson for the office Cheryl Ng said she believes the attackers were local thugs recruited by the Chinese regime.
“Police in Hong Kong must identify and arrest those who carried out this attack and those who instigated it,” RSF said. “The credibility of the Hong Kong authorities demands that all media, even the most critical of Beijing, should be allowed to publish in peace Hong Kong”, it added.
RSF also raised concerns about a similar attack in the U.S. shortly before the Hong Kong incident, where an Epoch Times executive was attacked and assaulted in his Atlanta home by Asian men.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also voiced concerns about attacks and threats against ethnic Chinese journalists of the Epoch Times in U.S. soil.
“The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by attacks and threats against ethnic Chinese journalists based in or near the U.S. cities of Atlanta, San Francisco, and New York,” CPJ said in a statement.
CPJ has also documented the cases of journalists in China who have been imprisoned for contributing to the Epoch Times and other news organizations banned by the Chinese regime.
In 2010 an Epoch Times office in Australia was shot at ahead of a forum organized by the news organization on organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China.
Updated Feb. 6, 5:45pm EDT