US urged not to punish Chinese restrictions with more restrictions
By Bob Dietz/CPJ Asia Program Coordinator
The Committee to Protect Journalists is watching with concern the progress of H.R. 2899, the Chinese Media Reciprocity Act of 2011, which was under discussion Wednesday in front of the Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement. The bill seeks to reduce the number of visas available to journalists (and their families) working in the United States for 13 Chinese state-controlled publications. The aim is to pressure Beijing into allowing more Voice of America reporters into China; VOA staffers tell us that they are allowed only two China visas to cover a country of more than 1.3 billion people.
CPJ's many objections to China's media policies, including its approach to foreign media, are well documented. But we don't believe that the best response to press freedom restrictions in China is to implement press freedom restrictions in the U.S. We don't approve of the use of specific visas for journalists in the first place, although we recognize that it is a widespread practice. In an ideal world, we would see as many journalists as possible in all countries, moving as freely as possible across borders.