BEIJING -- Vice President Joe Biden forcefully complained to Chinese leaders about threats to expel U.S. journalists as part of a government crackdown on foreign media organizations, officials said Thursday.
Mr. Biden met privately Thursday with a group of foreign journalists who are being threatened with expulsion, and reporters were told that he brought up the issue at all three of his meetings with China's top leaders, including President Xi Jinping.
Some of the affected journalists expressed hope that with Mr. Biden personally lending his weight and potential loss of face to their cause, the chances that their visas would be granted at the last minute would increase.
Nine journalists from The New York Times have not yet received visas to remain in China past Dec. 31, the newspaper's executive editor said, and at least 14 at Bloomberg News are similarly affected, according to a journalist briefed on the Biden meeting. In addition to The Times and Bloomberg, other media organizations represented at the meeting with Mr. Biden included the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and Reuters news agency, as well as the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China.
Mr. Biden reportedly registered his concerns directly with Mr. Xi during a wide-ranging bilateral meeting a day earlier, and he publicly denounced the practice of intimidating journalists in a speech to U.S. business executives Thursday in Beijing.
The Chinese government has threatened not to issue or renew work visas for journalists from The New York Times, Bloomberg News and other organizations in the wake of critical stories. And The Times reported last month that Bloomberg editors killed two stories out of fear that the company's journalists would be expelled, an allegation that Bloomberg officials denied.
The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Reuters and Financial Times have Chinese websites or services that have been blocked off and on over the years. London-based Reuters was believed to have been included in the meeting with Mr. Biden because American reporter Paul Mooney was refused a visa after waiting eight months to begin a new assignment in China for the agency.