The French government's reaction had not "measured up to the challenge of what is taking place", Gauthier said on Monday.
"This is not about me, it is a very violent attempt to muzzle the international press," she told France Inter radio. "I'm not the target here. It's very important that we don't let China fall back into ways that we thought had gone forever and which bring to mind the Cultural Revolution."
The Chinese press is already effectively muzzled, she said.
The French foreign affairs ministry has said it "regrets" the fact that Gauthier's Chinese press card and visa will not be renewed because of a report on the Xinjiang region, in which she suggested that violence by members of the Uighur minority might be partly driven by resentment of government policies.
China's official Xinhua news agency said on Monday that her article was "as immoral as it is sensationalist".
"Whether Gauthier admits it or not, her fact-distorting article equates to justifying terror attacks in Xinjiang," it said.
The decision to expel her was approved by 95 per cent of respondents in a poll on the website of the Global Times, a publication with close ties to the ruling Communist Party.
China's foreign ministry said Monday Gauthier had made critical comments in a decade of reporting from the country but that her article on Xinjiang was particularly offensive and justified her expulsion.