China’s state broadcaster accused of using fake French journalist to counter Xinjiang critics

Published (HKT): 2021.04.03 06:23

China’s CGTN broadcaster is facing accusations of fabricating the identity of a French journalist in its effort to slam critics of Beijing over the treatment of the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang.

In an article published on CGTN’s website on Sunday, a French “journalist” named Laurene Beaumond suggests that claims of concentration camps, sterilization, forced labor and genocide against Uyghur people are baseless. These accusations, she says, are made by people who have never set their foot in the northwestern region of China.

Media outlets in France have since tried to verify the identity of Laurene Beaumond, but to no avail so far. Beaumond is described by the state-run Chinese broadcaster as a freelance journalist who has worked with various Paris-based media outlets.

Beaumond said in the article that she is “French and lived in China for almost seven years,” during which time she visited Xinjiang between 2014 and 2019.

However, suspicions have grown in France as to whether Beaumond actually exists. The French office that issues journalists’ identification cards in the country has no record of Beaumond in its registry, according to the Le Monde newspaper.

Beaumond’s account on the Twitter microblog was created only last month, and a search of her byline on Google failed to find any other articles by her, said radio broadcaster FranceInfo. This was “strange” for a journalist with a claimed history of working with different French media outlets, it added.

Last month French regulators approved CGTN’s application for a broadcasting license, enabling it to continue airing programs in Europe, after Britain revoked its license because of the broadcaster’s affiliation with the Chinese Communisty Party.

French regulators told Radio France Internationale (RFI) that the article in question was out of their scope of supervision because it was published on CGTN’s website, rather than on its TV channels. They could step in only if the Chinese broadcaster mentioned Beaumond’s name on the TV screen, RFI said.

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