Beijing branch of Al-Jazeera is still functioning normally."
was not an auspicious reaction to the news that Al-Jazeera
English has closed its Beijing bureau after being refused journalist visas.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Hong Lei's responses at today's press
conference did not improve from there, according to a partial transcript
published by Voice of America. His
explanations for the ministry's refusal to renew credentials for the channel's
Beijing correspondent Melissa Chan were a mixture of denial and obfuscation. (Al-Jazeera's
Arabic-language bureau continues to operate with several accredited
journalists, according to The Associated