The US has expressed its disappointment over expulsion of Al-Jazeera's correspondent Melissa Chan from China, as a result of which the Qatar-based news channel closed its English bureau in Beijing.
"We have been closely following Melissa Chan's case, and I would just say that we're disappointed in how the Chinese government decided not to renew her accreditation," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.
"To our knowledge, she operated and reported in accordance with Chinese law, including regulations that permit foreign journalists to operate freely in China," Toner said.
Responding to a question, Toner said he believes that the US has raised the issue with the Chinese authorities.
Chan, a US citizen who has been working in China since 2007, had to leave China following the denial of visa to her.
She has filed nearly 400 reports during her five years in the country, the channel said.
However, the channel said its Arabic bureau will continue to function without interruption.
Terming the move appalling, the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China, (FCC), an informal body not recognised by Chinese government said Chan was being punished for a documentary aired by the channel even though she has no part in it.
"Chinese officials had expressed anger at a documentary the channel aired last November.
"Melissa Chan did not even play a part in making that documentary. They have also expressed unhappiness with the general editorial content on Al Jazeera English and accused Chan of violating rules and regulations that they have not specified," it said in a statement.
"This is the most extreme example of a recent pattern of using journalist visas in an attempt to censor and intimidate foreign correspondents in China", it said.
Declining to provide the reasons why Chan was expelled, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei yesterday said that there is a open and free environment for the foreign media to report from China.
"At the same time foreign journalists have to follow law and regulations and follow professional ethics", he said.
"We have been dealing with relevant media and foreign journalists in accordance with relevant laws and regulations as well as actual performance of the journalists", he said.