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Reporter 'Forced Out' of China Following Visa Issue

  • VOA News

China has forced the departure of a New York Times journalist after failing to renew his visa, prompting fresh accusations that Beijing is retaliating against foreign media because of coverage critical of the Communist Party.

The Times says correspondent Chris Buckley "was forced to leave mainland China" Monday after authorities declined to issue him a visa for 2013 by year's end, despite "numerous requests" by the U.S. paper.

The paper also says its new Beijing bureau chief Philip P. Pan, who applied for a visa in March, has yet to be accredited. It said the visa and credential process normally takes only weeks or a couple months.

New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson said in a statement she hopes Beijing will approve the visas as soon as possible so the journalists can continue their work.

Beijing blocked both the Chinese and English websites of the Times in October, after the paper published a blockbuster story detailing the massive alleged wealth of the family of Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

Just months earlier, China responded similarly to the reporting of Bloomberg News, which published an investigation into the riches of the Communist Party's new leader, Xi Jinping.

While news reporting on corruption is increasingly common in China, the government reacts nervously to allegations against its top leaders.

In what some observers say is an attempt to curb the critical reporting, the government has placed more pressure on foreign news organizations and journalists.

In May, Al-Jazeera journalist Melissa Chan, who had reported on China's network of extralegal detention centers, was forced to leave the country after the Chinese government failed to renew her credentials.

Authorities never gave a specific reason why Chan was expelled from the country, but a government spokesperson later said foreign correspondents "must abide by Chinese law and regulations and journalistic ethics when reporting in China."

The New York Times says China's Foreign Ministry refused to comment on whether the latest visa and accreditation problems were related to the newspaper's coverage of China.