Beijing issues press credentials to foreign journalists after delay

Foreign news agency and New York Times had written articles critical of leadership

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 December, 2013, 4:06am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 December, 2013, 6:31pm

Beijing has issued press credentials to the China-based reporters of Bloomberg, after a tense delay seen as retaliation for hard-hitting reports on the country's leaders.

Accreditation for several reporters from The New York Times has also been renewed.

The move is a significant step towards obtaining residence visas that would allow the reporters to stay in the country, after the delay raised concerns that Beijing was effectively forcing the reporters out.

Watch: Taiwanese animators poke fun at Bloomberg’s apparent self-censorship on China

Both Bloomberg and the Times have had their websites blocked since late last year after each published detailed investigative reports exposing the enormous wealth amassed by the relatives of Chinese leaders, including President Xi Jinping and former premier Wen Jiabao . The delay in issuing accreditation was criticised by US vice-president Joe Biden on a visit to Beijing earlier this month.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing that the issue of the renewals had been dealt with "in accordance with the law and the rules".

"Any person who speaks nonsense about this or who wants to seize on the incident and exaggerate it, does not accord with the facts and is completely wrong," she said.

Belina Tan, a Bloomberg spokeswoman in Singapore, confirmed the renewal of the press credentials.

"We have received all our China press cards and continue to operate as usual," she said.

Edward Wong, The New York Times' acting China bureau chief, confirmed on Twitter that some of the paper's journalists on the mainland, but not all, had new press cards, but none had yet been given 2014 residence visas.

Associated Press, Reuters