Reporters Without Borders regrets that New York Times correspondent Chris Buckley has had to leave mainland China, the country where he has worked as a reporter for the past 12 years, because the authorities did not respond to his visa renewal application. Buckley left on 31 December.
“The visa renewal problems regularly encountered by foreign journalists threaten the international media’s ability to function properly in China,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The aim is to pressure news media and reporters to censor themselves and deter them from covering sensitive and embarrassing subjects.
“We urge the Chinese government to issue a new visa to Buckley without delay and to allow international journalists to get on with their work without having to fear the possibility of being barred from China. If not, it will just confirm claims that it spends more time trying to silence those who draw attention to corruption than trying to combat this major problem.”
Last May, the Qatar-based TV news station Al-Jazeera was forced to close its Beijing bureau after the Chinese authorities refused to renew reporter Melissa Chan’s visa.
The New York Times recently angered the Chinese authorities by publishing an investigative report about the wealth amassed by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s family. The newspaper’s website has been inaccessible in China since then.