White House criticizes Chinese 'restrictions' on foreign journalists

Jan. 31, 2014 at 5:45 AM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- U.S. officials are concerned that foreign journalists "face restrictions that impede their ability to do their jobs" in China, a White House statement said.

Press secretary Jay Carney, in a statement addressing the case of New York Times reporter Austin Ramzy who had to leave China because of delay in issuing his media credentials, said such restrictions and treatment are "not consistent with freedom of the press and stand in stark contrast with U.S. treatment of Chinese and other foreign journalists."

Carney said U.S. officials are "deeply concerned that foreign journalists in China continue to face restrictions that impede their ability to do their jobs, including extended delays in processing journalist visas, restrictions on travel to certain locations deemed 'sensitive by Chinese authorities ..."

Such actions "stand in stark contrast with U.S. treatment of Chinese and other foreign journalists," Carney said.

The Times said Ramzy's visa, which expired Thursday, had not been renewed despite repeated requests. Ramzy relocated to Taiwan and would continue to report on China while waiting to return, the newspaper said.

"We will continue to work with Chinese authorities and hope to resolve the issue with his visa soon," a Times spokesman said.

Ramzy had previously worked for Time magazine.

The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has, in the past, similarly protested China's treatment of other foreign journalists.

It said visa problems arose for the Times and Bloomberg News after they had reported in 2012 about the wealth and investments of some Chinese leaders.

"We urge China to commit to timely visa and credentialing decisions for foreign journalists, unblock U.S. media websites and eliminate other restrictions that impede the ability of journalists to practice their profession," Carney's statement said.

On Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters his government had been processing Ramzy's accreditation application but the process could not be completed before his temporary visa expired.

Qin denied some reports that Ramzy had been expelled. He said visa and residency issues are matters "that only China as a sovereign nation can determine."

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