China steps up war on foreign correspondents

The rulers in Beijing have never liked having Western reporters in their country. Those pesky reporters just keep asking too many questions and refuse to just accept the government press releases as gospel truth.

In the wake of the November 13 Bloomberg and New York Times reports on how family members of leading government officials got rich, the government of China has been withholding visa renewals — normally a routine thing — for Bloomberg and NYT journalists.

Here is the latest from Foreign PolicyIs Beijing about to Boot the New York Times?

There have been previous kerfuffles, such as when the Times reported on the wealth accumulated by then prime minister Wen Jiabao in 2012.

Bloomberg got into trouble when it disclosed the family wealth of former party boss Bo Xilai and Chinese President Xi Jinping. In retaliation, the governemnt ordered local financial institutions to not buy Bloomberg terminals, which are the main profit-generating engine for the news organization. Censors also blocked its website.

The Foreign Policy article notes:

If Beijing actually does plan to expel both bureaus it would constitute the government’s biggest move against foreign reporters at least since the upheaval following the Tiananmen Massacre in 1989. Evan Osnos, a staff writer for the New Yorker and a long-time China correspondent, called this recent move “the Chinese government’s most dramatic attempt to insulate itself from scrutiny in the thirty-five years since China began opening to the world.” Paul Mooney, a longtime China-based chronicler of that country’s human rights abuses, had his visa rejected in early November, in another sign of tightening for foreign correspondents in China. Reuters, Bloomberg, and the New York Times “don’t have the ability to influence the Chinese government,” said Mooney. “I think we really need to have some kind of action. Maybe against media executives in China, or officials — to give the message that this is not acceptable.”

Foreign Policy quotes New York Times’ reporters as saying if the paper is kicked out of China, reporting would continue from Taiwan and Hong Kong. While not ideal situations, there is still a lot of information that can be gleaned from China in these two locations where press freedom is respected.


1 Comment

Filed under Censorship, China, Freedom of access, Harassment, International News Coverage, Press Freedom

One response to “China steps up war on foreign correspondents

  1. Pingback: China plays games with journalism visas | Journalism, Journalists and the World

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