Beijing withholds visas for New York Times, Bloomberg reporters
Beijing has been withholding residence visas for reporters working for The New York Times and Bloomberg in apparent retaliation for the agencies' investigative stories on wealth accumulated by leaders' families.
The move marks an intensifying of pressure on foreign journalists by the government, and if authorities do not soon start approving renewals for visas due to expire by the end of the year, it would effectively shut down the two organisations' newsgathering operations in the country.
The Foreign Correspondents Club of China said in an e-mailed statement to members yesterday that none of the China correspondents working for The Times and Bloomberg have been able to renew their residence visas for next year. "The authorities have given no public explanation for their actions, leading to the impression that they have been taken in reprisal for reporting that displeased the government," the club said in the statement.
A Bloomberg spokeswoman declined to comment while The Times did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The foreign ministry, which issues press credentials, and Beijing's public security bureau, which grants residence permits, did not respond to faxed lists of questions. The foreign ministry has said in previous comments on this issue that Beijing's treatment of foreign journalists is in line with the law.
Last week while on his visit to Beijing, US Vice-President Joe Biden publicly criticised how American journalists have been treated by the government.
The Times reported late last week that it and Bloomberg have nearly two dozen journalists on the mainland whose visas are up for renewal by the end of the month and that Beijing has refused to act on them. In addition, The Times has been unable to obtain journalist visas for its China bureau chief Philip Pan and correspondent Chris Buckley.
The two news organisations have had their websites blocked on the mainland since late last year after each published investigative reports exposing the wealth amassed by the relatives of leaders including President Xi Jinping and former premier Wen Jiabao .