USA: As China-US retaliations escalate, Chinese journalists face new visa restrictions

On May 8, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced visa restrictions for mainland Chinese journalists employed by non-U.S. media restricting their work visas to 90 days, in what is seen as the latest retaliatory measure against China. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expresses concern about the escalation of the situation and the impact on media freedom as it obstructs the free flow of information during a global pandemic.

This file photo taken on May 14, 2019 shows the US (L) and Chinese flags displayed outside a hotel in Beijing. Credit: Greg Baker/AFP

This measure taken by the U.S. is one in a series of retaliatory moves between China and U.S., that involves media and journalists and threatens the free flow of information.  Under the new rules, Chinese journalists are eligible to receive only 90-day work visas, with visa extensions limited to a maximum of 90 days.

In March this year, the IFJ reported China’s decision to revoke the press passes of American journalists from mainstream organisations like The New York Times and Washington Post, among others, which came only days after three journalists from the Wall Street Journal were expelled from China over an opinion piece on Covid-19, despite not working on the article.

The expulsion of the journalists by China was seen as an act of retaliation against the U.S. In February this year, the Trump administration announced that five major Chinese state-run entities with US operations, will be treated as foreign embassies, with the need for them to register their employees and US properties with the State Department. This move was reportedly taken to curb the promotion of Chinese soft power overseas.

IFJ said: The instability in Sino-American relations has escalated the media controls between the two countries, threatening press freedom and journalists’ rights, which damages the free flow of information. The IFJ condemns the use of such tit-for-tat measures that attacks journalists’ rights as, during the pandemic, they must be provided with better platforms to exercise their duty of informing the citizens.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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