Chinese Authorities Delay Issuing Visas to Foreign Journalists

 

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned by reports that a foreign

journalist was warned by China’s Foreign Ministry that they had breached

unspecified regulations by writing three articles on topics considered

sensitive by the Chinese Government.

 

The foreign journalist,

who wished to remain anonymous, told IFJ that they believe the warning from the

authorities was related to the deliberate delaying of the decision as to

whether or not their working visa would be granted. The journalist has been

living in Beijing, China for a number of years, and prior to 2011 had

encountered no delays in securing a working visa.

 

The journalist said, “I’ve

been waiting on my visa application for almost a year, but the Exit-Entry

Administration Department refuses to give me an answer. They have offered

various excuses to delay my visa, even asking me to comprehensively explain my

previous work and activities”.

 

However, after having

written three articles on sensitive topics, including Chinese artist/activist Ai

Weiwei and the Yunnan floods, while waiting on visa approval the journalist was

warned by the Foreign Ministry that they had breached the government’s regulation.

No further explanation was given.

 

According to the

journalist, “they refused to provide me with a visa because of the critical

content of my reports, as well as the upcoming leadership changes due to take

place during the Eighteenth National Congress”.

 

On May 7, Melissa

Chan, a female journalist for Al Jezeera English and a Board Member of the Foreign

Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC), was expelled from China with an excuse that

she too had breached government regulation.

 

The FCCC reported that

authorities also did not provide evidence or explanations as to which

regulation had been breached.

 

Thirteen other foreign journalists

have also had their visa applications on hold for more than six months.

 

“This latest case is

another example that demonstrates that the authorities of China are using the content

of journalists’ reporting to determine which journalists will receive a working

visa,” the IFJ Asia-Pacific Office said.

 

“The use of the threat of

denied working visas as a threat to suppress journalists is a clear violation

of press freedom.”

 

 “The IFJ urges Yang

Jiechi, Minister of China’s Foreign Ministry, to take action to ensure his officers

make decisions regarding the granting of visas to foreign correspondents based

on legitimate grounds, rather than consideration of their editorial content”. 

 

On 15 May, Global Times

reported that local Beijing authorities had commenced a three months

investigative campaign targeting all foreigners who are illegally staying,

working and entering Beijing. The report stated that Beijing is the first place

to begin monitoring the number of foreigner journalists, with other developed

cities expected to follow.

 

For

further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950 

 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131

countries

 

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

Find the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific