A spokesman for the White House on Thursday said that the US is ‘very disappointed’ over news of New York Times journalist Austin Ramzy being forced to leave China.
Ramzy, who has been reporting in the country for over six years, faced expulsion along with several other Times and Bloomberg correspondents in China, most of whom were issued renewed visas in January after a months-long standoff between China’s government and Washington.
China’s Foreign Ministry announced on Monday that Ramzy had violated residence visa regulations and would be expected to leave this week, making him the second Times reporter in 13 months to leave the mainland over visa issues.
SCMP relays the announcements:
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the US is “very disappointed” over Ramzy and remains concerned several other US journalists have waited months or years for a decision on their press credentials and visas.
Carney also urged China to unblock US media websites and eliminate other restrictions on journalists, including on travel. He said in some cases, journalists face violence at the hands of local authorities.
“These restrictions and treatment are not consistent with freedom of the press – and stand in stark contrast with US treatment of Chinese and other foreign journalists,” he said in a statement.
US Vice-President Joe Biden expressed deep concern over the Chinese government’s treatment of foreign journalists during his trip to Beijing in December, when the fate of reporters awaiting visa renewal was still up in the air.
The Chinese government’s crackdown on Western media is believed to be retaliation for sensitive reports published by the Times and Bloomberg in 2012 exposing secret wealth accumulated by the family members of China’s top leaders, including Xi Jinping and former premier Wen Jiabao. Both websites were blocked in the mainland not long after the reports were published.