What Next for Foreign Media in China?

On 11/12/2013 by Site Default

As staff for The New York Times and Bloomberg News face visa delays and possible expulsion, Foreign Policy’s Isaac Stone Fish reviewed the story so far and asked what might lie ahead:

It’s not too late for Beijing to pull back and allow the bureaus to continue to operate. “Perhaps they won’t pursue the nuclear option,” said one of the  journalists, adding that “it would be a public relations debacle” if the bureau was expelled. “There is talk about contingency plans, but it’s not our priority right now,” said the other reporter. “We have until Dec. 17 or 18 before the first of our residency  expires.” If they are expelled, the plan is to continue reporting, but from Hong Kong and Taiwan. “It’s not ideal, but we’re going to have smart and trenchant coverage of China either way,” said one of the journalists. An executive at the  familiar with the plans, who asked to speak on background, said reporting on China “is best done from China, but it can be done from elsewhere as well.” [AnNYT reporter writing anonymously at ChinaFile seemed less optimistic: “Our work only reflects the proper nuances, texture and voices—in other words, the true nature of China—if we’re on the ground.”] Hong Kong, where the newspaper has a large presence, is an “obvious” choice.

The experience of Chris Buckley, the New York Times reporter who settled in Hong Kong after his visa wasn’t renewed last year, has shown that it’s not impossible to cover China internationally. He has continued doggedly reporting from Hong Kong, though his wife and daughter remain in China. “The personal toll on Chris has been immense,” said one of the New York Times journalists. A few weeks ago, I tweeted that Buckley may be the future of China . “I sincerely hope not,” he responded. Sadly, that’s looking more and more likely. As for Buckley himself, it doesn’t appear likely he will be allowed to move back to China anytime soon. Just like Laurie and his peers in the 1970s, he is consigned to sitting in Hong Kong and gazing longingly at the Mainland. And if things get worse, he’ll soon have company. [Source]

Some journalists with whom Stone Fish spoke raised the controversial suggestion of reciprocal visa restrictions on Chinese media workers in the United States. The issue is said to have come up in talks between journalists and U.S. vice president Joe Biden during his visit to Beijing last week, and is likely to do so again in a roundtable held by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China on Wednesday afternoon. The Washington Post suggested in a Sunday editorial that the time might have come to take such steps, which have been proposed in Congress before but never gathered critical momentum.



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