Times Reporter in China Is Forced to Leave Over Visa Issue

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BEIJING -- A correspondent for The New York Times was forced to leave mainland China on Monday after the authorities declined to issue him a visa for 2013 by year's end.

Chris Buckley, a 45-year-old Australian who has worked as a correspondent in China since 2000, rejoined The Times in September after working for Reuters. The Times applied for Mr. Buckley to be accredited to replace a correspondent who was reassigned, but the authorities did not act before Dec. 31, despite numerous requests. That forced Mr. Buckley, his partner and their daughter to fly to Hong Kong on Monday.

Normally, requests to transfer visas are processed in a matter of weeks or a couple of months.

The Times is also waiting for its new Beijing bureau chief, Philip P. Pan, to be accredited. Mr. Pan applied in March, but his visa has not been processed.

The visa troubles come amid government pressure on the foreign news media over investigations into the finances of senior Chinese leaders, a sensitive subject. Corruption is widely reported in China, but top leaders are considered off limits.

On the day that The Times published a long investigation into the riches of the family of Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, both its English-language Web site and its new Chinese-language site were blocked within China, and they remain so.

In June, the authorities blocked the English-language site of Bloomberg News after it published a detailed investigation into the family riches of China's new top leader, Xi Jinping. Chinese financial institutions say they have been instructed by officials not to buy Bloomberg's computer terminals, a lucrative source of income for the company.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment on Mr. Buckley's forced departure. Ministry officials have not said if they are 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 can return to Beijing.

. "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," Jill Abramson, the executive editor of The Times, said in the statement. "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."

The Times has six other accredited correspondents in China, and their visas were renewed for 2013 in a timely manner. David Barboza, the Shanghai bureau chief, who wrote the articles about Mr. Wen's family, was among those whose visas were renewed.

world

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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