A WSJ reporter writes about being kicked out of China

Lingling Wei

Lingling Wei, a Wall Street Journal reporter, writes about being forced to leave China, where her parents live, earlier this year.

Wei writes, “Beijing called the eviction of American journalists a response to Washington’s earlier expulsion of Chinese journalists. ‘It’s not personal,’ a Chinese official told me. But for me, it couldn’t have been more personal: I was being forced to leave my family. The expulsion also brought to an abrupt end my dream of reporting from the country where I was born and raised, and which I call my motherland.

“In the fall of 2010, I became a U.S. citizen after 11 years in New York, where I earned a graduate degree in journalism and began my career. The following spring, the Journal dispatched me to Beijing to do what I’d always wanted: independent reporting in China. ‘We’ve never seen an application like yours before,’ an official at the Chinese Consulate in New York told me when I applied for a journalist visa, referring to my Chinese background. Back then, I felt I symbolized the benefits of a close relationship between the two world powers.

“By 2020, however, I had become collateral damage—what some Chinese call ‘bomb ashes’—in an intensifying political firefight. I felt frightened and helpless, and thought about quitting to remain with my parents, who are in their 70s. My family’s ‘red roots’ go back almost a century. What would they think of me being expelled from China because I’m an American journalist?”

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