A New York Times correspondent was forced to leave China after his visa was not renewed, the media watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said.
The Times in a report on Monday said that it attempted numerous times to renew the visa of Australian journalist Chris Buckley, 45, who has worked in China since 2000 and spent time working for Reuters. However, Chinese authorities did not grant the newspaper’s request, forcing Buckley to fly to Hong Kong on Dec. 31 with his daughter and partner.
The Beijing bureau chief for the Times, Philip Pan, also has not been accredited despite his application being submitted in March. It generally takes weeks to a few months to get a media visa in China, the paper noted.
“I hope the Chinese authorities will issue him a new visa as soon as possible and allow Chris and his family to return to Beijing,” Jill Abramson, executive editor of the Times, was quoted as saying. “I also hope that Phil Pan, whose application for journalist credentials has been pending for months, will also be issued a visa to serve as our bureau chief in Beijing.”
Chinese officials’ unwillingness to grant Buckey a visa is continuation of a recent trend to apply pressure on international media workers inside China, according to the CPJ. Last year, Al Jazeera correspondent Melissa Chan, who helped make a documentary on forced labor that touched on a number of sensitive topics including the longstanding persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, was forced to leave China after her credentials were not renewed.
“CPJ is concerned that Chinese authorities have not renewed Chris Buckley’s visa,” said Bob Dietz, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Asia program coordinator, in a statement. “We urge authorities to approve his credentials as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, both the Times and Bloomberg News were censored in 2012 after they reported on several top Chinese Communist Party officials’ finances. According to the Times, Chinese authorities have told its financial workers not to purchase Bloomberg computer terminals.
The Times’ six other China-based correspondents’ visas were renewed in a timely manner for 2013, the newspaper said.
According to the CPJ, the Chinese regime last year had 32 journalists—19 of which are Tibetans or Uyghurs—in prison.
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