In what could be the second expulsion of a foreign journalist this year, Chinese authorities have failed to renew a visa and journalist accreditation for the New York Times’ Chris Buckley, an Australian citizen. Buckley left China on Monday night. Buckley’s departure follows the publication of two major New York Times’ exposés looking at the financial dealings of relatives of China’s high officials, although Buckley himself was not responsible for the reports. David Barboza, who wrote the two investigative pieces, continues to work in China. From the Sydney Morning Herald:
Fairfax understands that Buckley, who rejoined The New York Times in October after a stint at Reuters, has received no official explanation of why his application has not been accepted after a delay of more than two months.
Buckley’s treatment raises concerns about bilateral reciprocity, given reporters and propaganda workers from Chinese state media are given unimpeded access to Australia and the US.
It also illustrates the challenge facing the new leader, Xi Jinping.
Mr Xi has repeatedly warned that corruption threatens the Communist Party’s existence but has not yet shown he is prepared to allow the media ”sunlight” that analysts say is required to redress the problem.
The New York Times report on Mr Wen was one of a series of damaging foreign media reports about how leading Communist Party families have acquired enormous wealth despite their professed socialist ideals.
The New York Times’ Chinese and English websites have both been blocked following the newspaper’s recent reporting on China. Phil Pan, an American journalist who was hired to edit the Chinese site, has also been denied a journalist visa in China, according to the SMH article. But on Twitter, Pan expressed optimism that Buckley would be permitted to return to China:
@limlouisa @pekingmike @chubailiang He’ll be back soon, I hope.
— Philip Pan (@panphil) December 31, 2012
In May, Al Jazeera correspondent Melissa Chan became the first foreign journalist in more than a decade to be expelled from China. The government never offered any public explanation of the move.
Update: See a New York Times report on Buckley’s departure from China:
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment on Mr. Buckley’s forced departure. Ministry officials have not said if they were linking Mr. Buckley’s visa renewal or Mr. Pan’s press accreditation to the newspaper’s coverage of China. In a statement, The Times urged the authorities to process Mr. Buckley’s visa as quickly as possible so that he and his family could return to Beijing.
“I regret that Chris Buckley has been forced to relocate outside of China despite our repeated requests to renew his journalist visa,” Jill Abramson, the executive editor of The Times, said in the statement. “I hope the Chinese authorities will issue him a new visa as soon as possible and allow Chris and his family to return to Beijing. I also hope that Phil Pan, whose application for journalist credentials has been pending for months, will also be issued a visa to serve as our bureau chief in Beijing.”