US tightens visa rules on Chinese journalists, likely to stoke more tensions

The US government’s new guidelines tightening visa regulations for Chinese journalists will deepen rancor between the two countries, and it is a reflection of the US’s “lack of confidence on its own development,” noted Chinese observers, adding that the move will trigger further retaliatory measures from Beijing.

The regulation issued by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Friday, which takes effect on Monday, will limit visas for Chinese reporters to a 90-day period, with the option for extension.

A senior DHS official, who requested anonymity to discuss the matter, said the new visa policy would allow the federal department to review Chinese journalists’ visa applications more frequently, and would likely reduce the overall number of Chinese journalists to be stationed in the US, the Reuters reported.

A Chinese journalist who used to work in the US by refused to be named called the new move as a disguised form of “expulsion” of Chinese journalistic workers. “It is already difficult to renew visa every three months, due to the low efficiency of the DHS and their deliberate attitude of being in a pickle with Chinese journalists,” said the Chinese reporter.

He noted that many Chinese journalists were “expulsed” due to their visa-related issues.

Zhang Tengjun, an assistant research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, said, “The US has long labeled itself as valuing ‘freedom of the press,’ but its actions were full of hypocrisy. The new policy speaks of the double standard being practiced by US politicians. They continuously stress on Chinese journalists’ official background, to find an excuse for cracking down on Chinese reporters’ normal reporting activities in the US.”

Zhang explained that by enforcing stricter visa scrutiny measures, the Trump administration wants to crack down on Chinese journalists they deem as “unfriendly to the US government,” adding that such a move to limit the activities of Chinese journalists is laden with a political agenda.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread in the US, with confirmed cases and fatalities keeping growing, the US is now hyping China as a threat, and ramping up tensions between the two countries, and even mudslinging at Chinese journalists that will greatly enlarge the China-US disagreements, Zhang said.

Limiting Chinese journalists’ activities in the US will diminish Chinese public understanding of the US, and undermine two countries’ people-to-people exchange, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times. “This also reflected the US’ lack of confidence mentality where they always see China with a cautious attitude,” said Li.

The two countries have been engaged in a series of retaliatory actions involving journalists in recent months, which was initiated by the US in February by designating five Chinese media outlets as foreign missions.

This new regulation will also lead to retaliations from China, which might include the legal imposition of visa restrictions on US media outlets stationed in China, predicted Li.

Communication and dialogue between the two countries should be based on mutual respect and cooperation. If the US disrespects Chinese journalists, China’s retaliatory measures will serve as a reminder for them that they should quietly swallow the consequences, said Li adding that if such anti-China mentality prevails in the US political sphere, it will deepen the rancor between the two governments and eventually backfire against the US.

Photo: GT


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