A microphone with the logo of Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera. The expulsion of the correspondent of Al Jazeera English from China is a blow to the rapidly expanding news service. - 

Kai Ryssdal: In China today, there was yet another high-profile story with potentially international implications. The government in Beijing has forced the popular news channel Al Jazeera English to close its only bureau in China, and expelled its reporter.

The decision comes at a domestically sensitive time. Beijing is bogged down by a scandal involving a top party official, and it's getting flak about its human rights record.

But as bad as things are for the government, it's even worse news for Al Jazeera English, as our China correspondent Rob Schmitz reports.

Rob Schmitz: So you’re one of the fastest growing news networks in the world, and now you’re not allowed to cover the fastest growing economy in the world.

Mike Chinoy’s a former CNN journalist; now he’s a senior fellow at USC’s U.S.-China Institute. He says Al Jazeera’s English news service is in a tough position.

Mike Chinoy: Clearly, China’s a huge story, and it’s a blow not to have a reporter on the scene covering it. That’s especially true at the moment, when there have been so many big stories coming from China.

This is the first time in 14 years that an accredited foreign journalist has been essentially expelled from China. This time around, the Chinese government hasn’t explained why.

Though Al Jazeera’s correspondent focused much of her work on human rights stories, Beijing-based media analyst Jeremy Goldkorn says so do many other foreign journalists.

Jeremy Goldkorn: Al Jazeera wasn’t an anti-China news organization. They were, if I may use an American TV station’s catch-phrase, rather fair and balanced I think.

Goldkorn says China’s made a bad PR move. But maybe not. China’s state-run CCTV has just opened a new news operation in Washington D.C., hiring dozens of people, says Mike Chinoy.

Chinoy: So you do have Chinese journalists going abroad in greater and greater numbers, even though their foreign counterparts in China are encountering greater and greater difficulties.

 In other words, China’s campaign to show its best side is alive and well.

 In Shanghai, I’m Rob Schmitz for Marketplace.

Follow Rob Schmitz at @rob_schmitz