FCCC survey finds China abuses press card, visa process

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (Beijing) published the findings of its annual visa survey last week. The findings are grim but come as no surprise following the Chinese government’s showdown late last year with members of the foreign press. 

In mid-December 2013, we reported that the fate of about two dozen international journalists working for The New York Times and Bloomberg News in China was unresolved. At the time, the journalists were dangling in “visa purgatory,” one of them told us.

While some of the journalists were eventually granted visas and accreditation at the eleventh hour (and many others either remain in limbo or were denied a visa), it became clear that the Chinese government’s delay tactics were meant to intimidate journalists who sought to report on sensitive matters, including the finances of family members of leading government officials.

The findings of the FCCC survey note that in the past year, “it became more obvious than ever that the Chinese authorities abuse the press card and visa renewal process in a political manner, treating journalistic accreditation as a privilege rather than a professional right, and punishing reporters and media organizations for the content of their previous coverage if it has displeased the government.”

The survey found that 18 percent of respondents experienced difficulties renewing their press cards or visas–twice as many compared to the last survey. Half of those who faced difficulties said they had been threatened with non-renewal of their accreditation or visa because of their reporting.

Here are the full findings of the survey, shared by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong.