US and China agree to ease restrictions on journalists

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US and China agree to ease restrictions on journalists

WASHINGTON — The United States and China on Tuesday announced an agreement to ease sanctions on foreign journalists working in the two countries, easing a diplomatic confrontation that has led to a truce from China during the final year of the Trump administration. Some American journalists were expelled.

The deal was first reported by China Daily, the official news outlet of the Chinese government, and was later confirmed by a statement from the State Department.

Under the agreement, made public a day after President Biden’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, three news organizations – The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The New York Times – would be allowed to send journalists back to China, However, it was not clear whether the distinguished correspondents, expelled last year, would be allowed to return to work there.

“We are delighted that their correspondents will be able to return to the PRC to continue their important work,” the State Department said in a statement, referring to the People’s Republic of China. “We welcome this progress but see it only as preliminary steps.”

The United States, which had visas limited to 90 days for Chinese journalists, will provide annual visas for foreign journalists, which will be renewed annually. Both countries agreed to make it easier for journalists to travel to and from countries without fear of losing their ability to return to work.

Journalists from both countries must meet standard eligibility requirements for visas under the laws of both countries.

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US officials described the agreement as the result of months of talks aimed at resolving some rising tensions between the two superpowers as they maneuver around the world for economic power and public relations superiority.

“We will continue to work to increase access and improve conditions for US and other foreign media, and we will continue to advocate for media freedom as a reflection of our democratic values,” the State Department statement said. “

But it is not clear whether the deal, which White House aides said was not discussed when Mr Biden and Mr Xi met in a virtual summit on Monday – the expulsion by China against three newspapers last March. Completely reverses the course of action, as the coronavirus pandemic began in that country.

The issue is whether veteran journalists from the three US news organizations fired last year will be able to return to their former beats, allowing newspapers to capitalize on their expertise and sources as they continue to document the actions of the Chinese government. , business community and society.

China has for years sought to ban American journalists who aggressively covered government activities. Chinese officials cut visas for journalists working for US news organizations to force journalists to stop writing critically about the country.

But tensions over the issue of journalists intensified in early 2020, as former President Donald J. Trump stepped up his rhetoric about the Chinese origins of the coronavirus and limited the number of Chinese citizens who were allowed to work in the Chinese state-owned United States. Media organizations that are widely considered to be propaganda outlets.

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Two weeks later, China expelled journalists working for three American papers. Mr Trump’s administration retaliated in early May, limiting Chinese journalists to 90-day visas to work in the United States. Previously, Chinese journalists were granted annual visas that allowed them to leave the United States and return throughout their stay.

The confrontation over journalists was part of a deteriorating relationship between the United States and China during the Trump administration, which has been linked to tariffs and other economic issues with Beijing, as well as Trump’s repeated condemnation of the Chinese government over the COVID-19 outbreak. But clashed.

After initially saying that China “worked very hard to contain the coronavirus,” Mr Trump later repeatedly used the phrase “China virus” to describe its origins.

Mr Biden has also taken a tough stand with China, but has sought to back the rhetoric among officials. US officials said Monday’s virtual summit between the two leaders was designed to ensure that misunderstandings and heated rhetoric do not lead to an outright conflict with China.

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