The United States and China settled to relax restrictions on each other’s media teams amid a mild easing of tensions between the two countries. On Wednesday, the official China Daily newspaper said both sides reached a pact before yesterday’s online meeting between United States President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Under the accord, America will issue a year of multiple-entry visas to media workers of China and will instantly trigger a process to tackle the issues regarding the duration of status, according to the China Daily. Furthermore, China will respond by permitting equal treatment to American journalists once the United States policies take effect, and both countries will issue media visas onwards for new applicants depending on relevant regulations and laws.
US and China agree to relax restrictions on journalist visas following Biden-Xi meeting
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The U.S. State Department said that China assured its commitment to intensify the duration of American media visas from the current ninety days to one year. Furthermore, the State Department said while referring to China, on a mutual basis, both sides are committing to expand the validity of American visas issued to Chinese journalists to one year as well.
Limits one Media Fueled Tensions Between China and the United States
It said that both nations would also offer multiple-entry visas for each other. Previously, restrictions on media workers escalated tensions between the two sides for over a year after the United States reduced twenty visas issued to Chinese state media staff and required those remaining to enroll as foreign agents, among some other changes.
China responded by expelling statewide journalists working for United States news outlets and significantly restricting conditions for those working in the country. China Daily said that the new media pact resulted from over a year of difficult talks over the treatment of news outlets in both nations.
The newspaper added that both countries anticipate more good news related to media outlets through further U.S.-China cooperation. In addition, the U.S. State Department said that it remained in close talk with the affected media outlets, along with outlets experiencing personnel shortages amid PCR government policy decisions, and the U.S. is satisfied their communications will be able to return to the PRC to continue their crucial work. Further, it added that the department welcomes this development but sees it simply as preliminary steps.
Additionally, the State Department said it would continue its efforts towards better conditions and expanded access for American and foreign media in China, where they face significant obstacles ranging from questioning by police, personal threats, harassment averting them from doing their work, and legal proceedings brought by individuals they interview. The State Department told the Associated Press (AP) that the U.S. would continue to support media freedom as a reflection of the democratic values of the country.
Which news outlets were affected by the Chinese expulsions?
China expelled thirteen American journalists from the U.S. outlets. The following three major media outlets affected amid Chinese expulsions:
- The Wall Street Journal
- The New York Times
- The Washington Post
These three media organizations refused to respond to requests from CNN Business to comment immediately. It is unclear whether the expelled American journalists will be able to return to China or if a new group of journalists will be permissible to enter China. Moreover, Chinese state media initially reported the journalists’ visa deal. After the meeting of both countries’ leaders, a senior Biden government official told reporters that this particular issue didn’t come up during their discussion.
On Wednesday, a United States Embassy spokesperson characterized the pact as a result of American officials insisting on their Chinese counterparts on visa issues and media access through working-level channels during the last some months. As a result, the Chinese government committed to allowing U.S. journalists who are already in China to freely depart and return, which they formerly could not do. The U.S. also plans to facilitate similar treatment.
In February 2020, the United States decided to categorize Chinese state media outlets as foreign missions, allowing stricter control over them. Five news outlets, including the China Global Television Network, Xinhua news agency, were told they would need to seek permission to acquire property and would need to submit lists of all workers on the staff, in a move China criticized as politically motivated cruelty.