During Joe Biden’s week-long trip to Beijing, wherein he attended multiple meetings with Chinese leaders and ‘expressed concern‘ over the country’s newly established ADIZ to Xi Jinping, the US vice president also reportedly ‘forcefully complained’ to the country’s top leaders, including Xi, about recent threats to expel US journalists in an ongoing government crackdown on foreign media outlets, according to the Washington Post.
Biden on Thursday reportedly met with a group of foreign journalists currently being threatened with expulsion. Reporters were told that the US vice president brought up the issue during his series of meetings with China’s top leaders, including president Xi Jinping.
Some of the affected journalists expressed hope that with Biden personally lending his weight and potential loss of face to their cause, the chances that their visas would be granted at the last minute would increase.
Biden reportedly registered his concerns directly with Xi during a wide-ranging bilateral meeting a day earlier, and he publicly denounced the practice of intimidating journalists in a speech to U.S. business executives Thursday morning in Beijing.
Nine journalists form the New York Times and at least 17 journalists from Bloomberg news have yet to receive visas to stay in China past the end of the year.
Journalists at the New York Times and Bloomberg specifically are fearing visa denials in connection to their stories exposing the secret wealth accumulated by family members of president Xi Jinping and former premier Wen Jiabao as well as the follow-up run by the Times on Wen’s daughter and her ties to JPMorgan Chase.
Bloomberg is now under scrutiny for adhering to Chinese censorship by barring the publication of an investigative report exposing financial ties between Wang Jianlin and the CCP.
The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times and Reuters were among other media organizations represented during the meeting between Biden and Xi. On China’s Journalist Day, Reuters’ veteran journalist Paul Mooney was denied a visa by the Chinese government.
Reporters said that Biden had warned Xi that the issues would result in repercussions for China, but the president appeared unmoved and said that authorities treat reporters according to Chinese law. In a speech made the day after his meetings, Biden announced that the most profound disagreement between China and the US currently is the country’s treatment of US journalists.
“It’s an unfortunate situation,” New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson said in a telephone interview. “We’re eager to work with Chinese officials to have our visas renewed as we have in past years.” But Chinese authorities have told Times journalists that their visas “are not being processed,” she said, and the government has complained to the paper about its stories on the vast wealth accumulated by Chinese “princelings,” top Communist Party members, bureaucrats and their relatives, saying the reports have been unfair and disrespectful of Chinese law.
During his trip to Beijing, Biden also reportedly dropped by the American Embassy and encouraged Chinese visa applicants, specifically students, to “challenge their government” over the issuing of visas.
“If you come to Washington, tell them you spoke to me here and I promise you’ll be able to get to see me,” Biden said, as laughter rang throughout the group of awaiting visa applicants.