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US Timid in Taking On Beijing About Journalists’ Visas – China Law & Policy

December 7, 2013


Reuters’ Paul Mooney (Pic. courtesy CLP)

Written days before the most recent hurdles placed by Beijing preventing journalists of two prominent US media organisations – Bloomberg and The New York Times – from obtaining work visas for the coming year, this two-part article in China Law and Policy (CLP) examines the hurdles before foreign correspondents to stop them from reporting from China.
‘Another American Reporter Banned from Beijing’ by Elizabeth M. Lynch, while unsparing of China’s policy in granting visas is also critical of the US Government’s timidity in challenging Beijing and is cognisant of the consequences if the foreign media is prevented from covering the country comprehensively.
“To date, the U.S. government has remained silent about China’s assault on foreign journalists, even as U.S. citizens and news outlets are increasingly targeted… The U.S. government’s silence is not without its costs.  As the world’s second largest economy and an increasingly bellicose nation, accurate reporting on the country is imperative to the United States. 
“If Beijing is permitted to continue to trifle with foreign journalists’ visas, frank reporting on China will become a relic of the past.  But it is the U.S. government that can prevent this outcome if it chooses to act and not wait for the situation to get worse.  Which it will if the past year is any guide,” said CLP.
The article used Reuters’ Paul Mooney to give a human face to the problem.
“In April 2013, Mooney was summoned to the Chinese consulate in San Francisco for an interview.  But again what should have been a routine affair proved to be a 90 minute interrogation.  Familiar with his articles and prior visa interviews, the consular officer grilled Mooney on some of his more critical articles such as the suppression of Chinese rights activists and the Chinese government’s treatment of blind dissident Chen Guangcheng.  According to Mooney, the official ended the interview telling him that if China let him back in he hoped that his reporting would prove more ‘objective,'” said CLP.
Read the article here
Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.