China denies visa for BuzzFeed writer in likely retaliation

China has refused to renew the journalist visa for an American correspondent for BuzzFeed News in what appears to be punishment for her reporting on topics considered sensitive by the authorities.

Megha Rajagopalan tweeted Wednesday that the foreign ministry declined to issue her a new visa in May. She said the ministry indicated it was a procedural issue and that it was unclear why.

Asked about Rajagopalan's case, the ministry responded with a statement Wednesday saying only that it handled such matters "according to laws and regulations."

During her six years in China, Rajagopalan had reported extensively on human rights abuses and the plight of China's Uighur (pronounced WEE-gur) Muslim minority, among other subjects.

China's government sometimes delays or refuses to issue or renew visas for journalists if it is displeased with their reporting, their media outlets, or both.

Those include a reporter for the Al Jazeera television network who was forced to leave the country in 2012 when her visa expired, and a correspondent for France's L'Obs magazine who had to leave in 2015.

Rajagopalan has taken up a new position with BuzzFeed reporting on technology and human rights, based in the Middle East.

In a statement, the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China said it found Rajagopalan's treatment "extremely regrettable and unacceptable for a government that repeatedly insists it welcomes foreign media to cover the country."

"We are attempting to get clarity from the Foreign Ministry on its reasoning for effectively ejecting a credentialed foreign journalist from China," the club said.