US newspaper The New York Times said yesterday it had been "forced to relocate" one of its Beijing-based reporters outside the mainland over a visa problem.
Chris Buckley, a veteran correspondent in China who joined the newspaper in October from the Reuters news agency, arrived in Hong Kong yesterday, the same day that his mainland journalist's visa expired.
"I regret that Chris Buckley has been forced to relocate outside of China despite our repeated requests to renew his journalist visa," Times executive editor Jill Abramson said. "I hope the Chinese authorities will issue him a new visa as soon as possible and allow Chris and his family to return to Beijing."
The newspaper has recently reported on the alleged accumulation of huge wealth by some of the relatives of Premier Wen Jiabao , largely through holdings in Ping An Insurance.
Abramson's statement did not mention the paper's recent reports on China but expressed regret for Buckley's situation and called on Beijing to issue him with a new visa, and one for its Beijing bureau chief, Phil Pan, whose application had been pending for "many months".
Speaking shortly after arriving in Hong Kong, Buckley said he hoped to receive accreditation and resume reporting in China as soon as possible.
"It's a complicated situation, and I am not sure if you will use the word 'expel'. I did not. My visa expired today and I did not receive a new visa," he said. "The situation is that I was working for Reuters until October, and then I took a new job with the New York Times. The visa that I was on was granted when I was working for Reuters, and I was in Beijing waiting for the Chinese authorities to grant me a new visa and accreditation to work for the New York Times. As of today, there was no word of approval."
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing was not available for comment late yesterday.