New York, N.Y., June 23, 1998--The
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) urged China's
President Jiang Zemin today to take immediate action to
restore the visas of three Radio Free Asia journalists
who were denied permission to accompany President Clinton
on his state visit to China.
The withdrawal of visas from the Washington-based
journalists of the U.S.-owned Radio Free Asia
"constitutes a serious breach of press freedom," said
CPJ's executive director William A. Orme, Jr. "As an
organization dedicated to the defense of press freedom
worldwide, CPJ sees the action by your government as
further evidence that China shows little respect for the
role of a free press." Radio Free Asia often reports on
human rights abuses in China.
The text of CPJ's letter to President Jiang
"The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is greatly
alarmed by your government's withdrawal of visas from
three Washington-based reporters scheduled to cover
President Bill Clinton's state visit to China this week.
The action constitutes a serious breach of press freedom.
We urge you in the strongest possible terms to
immediately reinstate the visas of the three Radio Free
Asia journalists: reporter Arin Basu, producer Patricia
Hindman and Mandarin-language broadcaster Feng Xiaoming.
"It has also been reported that visas to cover the
visit have been denied to two Hong Kong-based
publications, Next magazine and the newspaper Apple
Daily, whose owner, Jimmy Lai, has long been a target of
harassment by Beijing.
"The three journalists for the U.S.-owned Radio Free
Asia were initially granted visas by the Chinese Embassy
in Washington on Friday, June 19, as part of the large
press contingent traveling to Beijing to cover President
Clinton's nine-day visit to China, which is scheduled to
begin tomorrow. Embassy officials withdrew the visas the
day after they were issued, and the three were unable to
leave today with other journalists to cover the visit.
President Clinton has called the visa action 'highly
"China's record on press freedom has long been a
source of concern. Reporters and editors are unable to
report freely on a wide variety of topics. At least nine
journalists remain in jail in China while many others
practice self-censorship or follow narrow political
guidelines. Today's action shows that necessary reforms
in China's culture of secrecy and press control have yet
"As an organization dedicated to the defense of press
freedom worldwide, CPJ sees the action by your government
as further evidence of China's disregard for the role of
a free press. By refusing entry to these journalists,
China has put politics ahead of free expression because
of its objection to Radio Free Asia's programming. The
action calls into question the very basis of President
Clinton's attempt to forge a meaningful dialogue with
Beijing on human rights and other issues. We therefore
respectfully urge your excellency to do everything within
your power to restore the visas of the three journalists
from Radio Free Asia, and to allow Apple Daily and Next
to cover the Clinton visit."