China says New York Times reporter broke visa rules, will leave
BEIJING (REUTERS) - China's Foreign Ministry said on Monday that a China-based reporter for the New York Times broke rules on residence visas and would be leaving the country before the end of the week, in a case which could sour Beijing's relations with Washington.
The issue of media freedom for foreign reporters in China has attracted high-level concern in the United States, especially over worries that the government is denying visas for organisations that carry negative stories about China. Last month, US Vice-President Joe Biden expressed concern, while on a visit to Beijing, over China's efforts to restrict the activities of foreign news organisations.
Neither the New York Times Co nor Bloomberg News has been given new journalist visas for more than a year after they published stories about the wealth of family members of former Chinese premier Wen Jiabao and current President Xi Jinping, respectively.
The New York Times applied for a journalist accreditation in China for US national Austin Ramzy in the middle of last year, after he left Time magazine. Mr Ramzy remained in the country on the visa that he had received while working for Time, which was valid until the end of last year. The Chinese authorities then issued him a 30-day visa, valid until Jan 30, ostensibly to give him enough time to prepare to leave the country.