French reporter Ursula Gauthier has warned of dark days to come for journalists working on the mainland. Beijing made Gauthier leave after she criticised government policy in mainly Muslim Xinjiang province, where there is a lot of violence.
Mainland authorities accused Gauthier, the China correspondent for the French news magazine, L'Obs, of supporting terrorism, and refused to renew her press card. This forced her to leave before her visa expired last Thursday.
As she prepared to fly out of the country, Gauthier said the future looked bleak for journalists on the mainland. "What happened with this small article about Xinjiang could happen with anything else. This could be really dangerous in the future."
France and Europe should be "concerned about what is going on here, not because it is a journalist, not only because of the freedom of press, but also because it is about China and what China is doing to its minorities, and even its majority, the problem is the same," she added. She says her treatment is meant "to intimidate foreign correspondents in China, particularly on issues concerning minorities, especially in Tibet and Xinjiang".
She said her home address was posted online alongside death threats from angry readers.
Gauthier is the first foreign correspondent forced to leave China since the 2012 expulsion of Al Jazeera's Melissa Chan.