Foreign correspondents’ presence in China threatened by visa weaponisation

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China denounces, in its annual report, the regime’s policy of weaponising foreign journalists’ visas which, alongside systematic harassment, makes covering the country an increasingly difficult exercise.

In its annual report published on 31st January 2022, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC) denounced the regime’s increasingly systematic weaponisation of foreign journalists’ visas. The report, which is based on 127 FCCC members’ responses to a survey, highlights that 96% of the respondents were refused a regular “J-1” resident journalist visa in 2021, instead receiving residence permits of two-to-three months only. The report also pointed out the regime’s intensified harassment of foreign correspondents and their sources, which together with visa weaponisation makes it “increasingly hard for journalists remaining in China to operate”.

“Foreign correspondents are indispensable for the world to understand China, one of the world’s foremost economic powers, and the international community just cannot allow the Chinese authorities to become the only source of information about the country”, says RSF East Asia Bureau head Cédric Alviani, who calls on governments to “keep building up pressure on the Beijing regime so that they end their harassment of foreign correspondents and their sources.”

The correspondents substantially reported having interviews declined by sources who said they required prior permission to speak to foreign media (92%), being obstructed by police or other officials (62%), and being denied access to a place with Covid-19 used as an excuse (52%). 

RSF has recently published an unprecedented investigative report entitled ‘The Great Leap Backwards of Journalism in China’, which reveals the previously unheard-of campaign of repression led by Beijing against journalism and the right to information worldwide.

China ranks 177th out of 180 in the RSF World Press Freedom Index, just two places above North Korea, a country in which journalism is synonymous with state propaganda.

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Updated on 08.02.2022