Feb 26, 2020 - World

China slaps 10-year sentence on kidnapped Swedish citizen

Signs showing missing bookseller Lee Bo (L) and his associate Gui Minhai (R). Photo: Phillippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

After a five-year saga that provoked an international outcry, a Chinese court has sentenced Swedish citizen Gui Minhai to 10 years in prison for "providing intelligence overseas."

Background: In 2015, Chinese authorities secretly kidnapped Gui, a Hong Kong-based Swedish citizen known for writing and selling books critical of China’s leaders, from his apartment in Thailand and brought him to mainland China.

  • This “extraordinary rendition” — a cross-border kidnapping that Chinese officials have perpetrated upon occasion — sparked fears in Hong Kong and led to the severe deterioration of Sweden-China relations.

Of note: Particularly alarming is the court's claim that Gui had reapplied to become a Chinese citizen in 2018, several years into his forced disappearance.

My thought bubble: Given the circumstances, it seems highly likely that Gui was forced to reapply for Chinese citizenship. If so, that marks an alarming escalation of China’s unofficial policy of “extraterritoriality,” imposing its view that former Chinese nationals still belong to the motherland.

Go deeper: China expels 3 Wall Street Journal reporters

Go deeper

China bans journalists from 3 major U.S. newspapers

Xi Jinping. Photo: Noel Celis - Pool/Getty Images

The Chinese government announced Tuesday that it will revoke press credentials for American journalists who work for the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal and whose credentials were set to expire in 2020, retaliating for state media restrictions by the Trump administration.

Why it matters: It's an escalation of a media war — in the midst of a global pandemic — that will result in U.S. journalists effectively being expelled from China. The journalists will not be permitted to work in Hong Kong or Macao, which is typically what blacklisted journalists have done in the past.

Go deeperArrowMar 17, 2020 - World

Beijing's coronavirus propaganda blitz goes global

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

As China begins to get its coronavirus outbreak under control, authorities are going on the offensive to rewrite the narrative that the global epidemic is Beijing's fault.

Why it matters: We're getting a glimpse of how China's formidable propaganda apparatus can obscure the truth and change narratives abroad, just as it can at home. The stakes are high — for the world and China's standing in it.

Go deeperArrowMar 11, 2020 - Health

U.S. places new restrictions on Chinese journalists

Trump briefs the press on coronavirus. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

In a briefing to reporters on Monday, senior Trump administration officials announced a set of restrictions to be placed on Chinese journalists operating in the United States.

Why it matters: The unprecedented restrictions are aimed at upholding "reciprocity" in U.S.-China relations amid a deteriorating media environment in China, the officials said.

Go deeperArrowMar 2, 2020 - World