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China imposes new visa restrictions on US media



Last week, during the routine renewal of their press cards, which are usually valid for one year, several journalists received a letter saying that their applications were being processed instead of a new press card. They were advised to carry the letter along with their expired press cards as proof of journalistic identity.

Since their Chinese visas are tied to their press cards, these journalists were issued a new visa that is only valid for about two months, much shorter than the usual year.
The Chinese authorities have made it clear that the temporary press cards – and the associated visas – can be revoked at any time, leaving affected journalists in suspense without knowing exactly how long they can stay in China.

The American CNN correspondent David Culver is affected by Beijing̵

7;s latest move. CNN has learned that the reporters include both US and non-US citizens of several major US media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal.

Chinese officials were told Culver that the new restriction had nothing to do with his reporting but was a “mutual measure” in response to the Trump administration’s treatment of Chinese journalists in the US.

A CNN spokesperson confirmed Culver’s new shortened visa on Sunday.

“One of our Beijing-based journalists recently received a two-month visa instead of the usual twelve,” the spokesman said. “Our local presence in China remains unchanged, however, and we continue to work with the local authorities to ensure that it continues to do so.”

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In May, Washington limited most Chinese journalists to 90 days in the United States. Beijing claims none of its journalists have received any feedback from the US authorities on the status of their recent visa renewal applications, which they believe have seriously affected their jobs and lives.

If approval is not granted, Chinese journalists will have to leave the US by early November, exactly when Culver’s new Chinese visa expires.

“The essence of the media problem between China and the US is the US political persecution and suppression of the Chinese media due to the Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying at a regular press conference Thursday in Beijing.

“If the US continues on the wrong track, China will have no choice but to take a legitimate and necessary response to uphold its legitimate rights,” she added.

Earlier this year, Beijing expelled about a dozen journalists from the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal after the Trump administration limited the number of Chinese nationals allowed to work in the US offices of the Chinese state media in major downsizing in these operations.

Since then, Washington has designated a growing number of US offices of China’s state news organizations as “overseas missions” requiring them to file records of their finances and personnel with the US authorities. Beijing has struck back by demanding the same of several US branches in China.

David Stilwell, US State Department’s deputy secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said the Chinese outlets were named because the US government viewed them as propaganda outlets “effectively controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (ruling) “and not as independent news organizations.

In a press conference in Washington on Wednesday, Stilwell said Beijing’s “mutual” moves against US media were retaliatory measures “out of proportion to our simple desire to redress that relationship.”

“There are 150 or more Chinese diplomats here – Chinese state media who work for the Department of Propaganda here in the United States and are fully active, and there are only a handful of American journalists left in China right now,” he said. “Let’s paint this picture so everyone understands what we’re talking about.”


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