Is Beijing about to boot the New York Times?

On 11/12/2013 by Site Default

The Chinese government’s crackdown on Bloomberg and the “paper of record” reaches a head.

Before the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, journalists covering China had to do make do with peering in from afar. “I would look longingly across the border, and say, ‘Why can’t I be there?'” recalled veteran foreign correspondent Jim Laurie, about his early days reporting from Hong Kong. Today, of course, China is a universe away from the chaotic and autarkic 1970s. As China moved away from the periphery and towards the center of world and economic affairs over the past few decades, interest in the country has skyrocketed: there are now hundreds of journalists reporting in China for Western publications, while countless thousands other foreigners have written about the place. But now, history may be repeating itself: Beijing has threatened to de facto expel roughly two dozen foreign correspondents working for Bloomberg and the New York Times, arguably the two publications who have most successfully covered China over the last few years.

Two New York Times journalists working in China, speaking on background, described how Beijing is withholding visa renewals for their 12 journalists working in China. Foreign journalists working legally in China need to renew their visa every year, a procedure which usually happens in December. But as of Dec. 10, the Foreign Ministry had not yet begun to process the applications. “Officials said they could not process those visas,” one of the New York Times reporters told Foreign Policy. In early December, Jill Abramson, the executive editor of the newspapersaid that what was once “an annual nonevent” has become “a very big worry.”

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