WASHINGTON — The United States and China on Tuesday announced an agreement to relax restrictions on foreign journalists operating in the two countries, tempering a diplomatic clash that led to the expulsion of some American reporters from China during the last year of the war. the Trump administration.
The deal was first reported by China Daily, the official news outlet of the Chinese government, and later confirmed by a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The agreement, which was made public just a day after President Biden met with President Xi Jinping of China, will allow three news organizations — The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The New York Times — to send journalists back to China, although it It remained unclear whether the specific correspondents who were deported last year will be allowed to return to work there.
“We are delighted that their correspondents can return to the People’s Republic of China to continue their important work,” the foreign ministry said in a statement, referring to the People’s Republic of China. “We welcome this progress, but just see it as first steps.”
The United States, which had limited visas for Chinese journalists to 90 days, will provide foreign journalists with one-year visas, which can be renewed annually. Both countries agreed to make it easier for journalists to get out of the countries without fear of losing the opportunity to go back to work.
Journalists for both countries must meet standard visa requirements under the laws of both countries.
US officials described the agreement as the culmination of months of negotiations aimed at resolving some of the escalating tensions between the two superpowers as they maneuver for economic power and public relations superiority around the world.
“We will continue to work to expand access and improve conditions for American 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’s unclear whether the deal — which White House aides said wasn’t discussed when Mr. Biden and Mr. Xi met at a virtual summit Monday — will completely replace eviction actions China took against the three newspapers last March. as the coronavirus pandemic just started to spread out of that country.
It remains to be seen whether the veteran journalists from the three US news organizations that were fired last year will be able to return to their former beats so that the newspapers can capitalize on their expertise and resources as they continue to document the incidents. actions of the Chinese government, business and society.
For years, China has tried to impose restrictions on American journalists who aggressively reported on the government’s activities. Chinese officials shortened visas for journalists working for US news organizations in an effort to dissuade reporters from writing critically about the country for fear of being forced out of the country.
But tensions over the issue of journalists mounted in early 2020, as former President Donald J. Trump escalated his rhetoric about the Chinese origins of the coronavirus and limited the number of Chinese citizens allowed to work for Chinese state-owned companies in the United States. assuming they are propaganda channels.
Two weeks later, China expelled journalists who worked for the three American newspapers. Trump’s administration retaliated in early May, restricting Chinese journalists to a 90-day visa to work in the United States. Previously, Chinese journalists were given one-year visas that allowed them to leave the United States and return during their stay.
The confrontation over journalists was part of a deteriorating relationship between the United States and China during the Trump administration, which clashed with Beijing over tariffs and other economic issues, as well as Mr Trump’s repeated condemnations of the Chinese government over the Covid-19 outbreak.
After initially saying that China had “worked very hard to contain the coronavirus,” Trump later repeatedly used the phrase “China virus” to describe its origin.
Mr Biden has also taken a stand against China, but has tried to roll back the rhetoric between officials. US officials said Monday’s virtual summit between the two leaders was designed in part to ensure that misunderstandings and heated rhetoric do not lead to outright conflict with China.