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Both governments say they are removing restrictions on how reporters can meet senior officials in order to ease political tensions
China and the US will ease restrictions on each other’s journalists
China and the US said they will ease restrictions on the travel of reporters of both governments to each other’s media centres as part of efforts to ease political tensions.
Their announcements on Sunday follows the high-profile trial of two Chinese journalists by Chinese authorities after Donald Trump’s trip to Beijing.
Over the weekend Chinese journalists attending the America China Press Association national conference were required to pack their own food and drink after they were refused re-entry to Beijing’s Democracy Square for a celebratory visit on Saturday night.
Thursday’s de facto press freedom crackdown has critics concerned Read more
The Americans were part of a delegation including a group of 500 from US broadcast and print media invited to Beijing to open a press centre.
But a delegation of 3,000 Chinese journalists, mostly state-run, were refused access to the event on Saturday, prompting a heated confrontation and chaos around the gate.
Speaking at a press conference in Beijing on Sunday, Lin Weiguo, a senior foreign ministry official, said China wanted to let both delegations return to the US press centre.
“In response to the request, China has agreed to lift the restriction on the travel of the delegation from the US side to open its embassy press centre,” he said.
Trump visited China before he was elected as US president, holding a press conference to demand that China cease developing its “offensive weapons” in the South China Sea.
On Sunday, department spokesman Peter Navarro said Trump would soon call Beijing’s President Xi Jinping and let him know that Washington accepted that the Chinese government allowed journalists to be based in their country.
“We take note of the China News Agency’s statements, I think, made last week [that] there are no restrictions on journalists and the press centre that was opened in Washington [Dulles] is a model that we also accept,” he said.
A business delegation from the US that is in Beijing has been blocked from entering the grounds of the US embassy while most other foreign firms have been given the go-ahead.
The Korean Herald reported that on Friday a Chinese delegation was turned away from entering the American media centre, although US media outlets were allowed to enter.
Chon Min-ha, a business reporter with the South Korean company Hyundai Motor, has now been detained on suspicion of defamation.
Reuters, Bloomberg and Bloomberg L.P. have all withdrawn reporters from Beijing in the last fortnight, after being told to surrender registration documents related to their licence.
The restrictions have been condemned by western journalists. Guardian USA editor Ali Jaafar described them as “a disastrous set of manoeuvres”.
Washington Post special counsel Paul Lewis said they would delay “hundreds of non-threatening acts of press freedom”.
The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomed the decision to open the US embassy press centre and called on the US administration to publicly affirm its commitment to press freedom.