This is apparently a continuation of an old story of how China is “expelling” foreign journalists en masse. However, there are some conflicting details in the story itself.
“Withholding” visas means they accepted the applications, but won’t issue the the visas. However the article later explained, “Chinese authorities had initially accepted resident journalist visa renewal applications from The Times’ reporters. But they stopped doing so — and in some cases returned applications to reporters — after the newspaper ran a report last month detailing ties between JPMorgan Chase and a consultancy in China run by Wen’s daughter.”
If they won’t accept the applications, or return the applications, that’s not “withholding” the visas. The Applications were just REJECTED for some reason, usually technical. As previous story on this noted, the Chinese government had explained that the applications were rejected for technical /formality reasons.
That might be nitpicking, but that is actually completely fair.
US Visa application processes have EXACTLY the same arbitrariness. (Maybe shocking for some Expats to know, but Chinese people who apply for US visas can have their applications rejected WITHOUT any explanations, and WITHOUT any return of fees).
Well, that’s the DEAL. Many Chinese tourists and immigrants to US had to deal with it. Not to imply this is some kind of pay back, but seriously, journalists, DEAL with it. Disruption to your career is nothing compared to what many of us had to go through.
Some in the Western media have suggested that US should retaliate by denying visas to Chinese journalists. I don’t think Chinese media would care. (1) A lot of Chinese media companies hire local journalists for their foreign based journalism, unlike Western media companies who feel the strange need to hire “expats” to send all the way to China, (2) Chinese media companies don’t spend that much man power on “investigative” dirt digging in foreign countries, that’s not the same kind of work, (3) Chinese “journalists” are mostly on short term visas, the number of visas just don’t equate to the kind of duration of long term visas for foreign journalists in China.
That sort of “retaliation” suggested simply won’t have the kind of similar impact.
2nd controversy: The “self-censorship”.
Many Western journalists are complaining about the impact of “visa withholding” on “self-censorship”.
Funny, I don’t recall the outrage of “self-censorship”, when all these same journalists are repeating unquestioning US government statements on every thing from Arab Springs, Iraq War, or even the US government interpretation of Chinese history and Chinese laws.
So, I think plenty of skepticism is allowed when it comes to “journalists” sudden realization of “self-censorship”.
In 1 past instance, a Western Editor working for a Chinese media company admitted openly in an article that he and his Western colleagues refused to run a story, (censoring), because he didn’t agree with what the Chinese media company wanted to write (to his view point “propaganda”).
“Censoring” a story for being “propaganda” to you, is still “censorship”, in case you missed the definition of “censorship”.
And let’s also face it, journalists have plenty of pressure of self-censorship at home. For example:
Another example: Guardian Reporter Greenwald.
And need I even mention: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/hastings-panicked-email-fbi-death-article-1.1380539
You want to talk about disruptions to your career and your lives? Wait until you get back to the West.
Which brings me to this point:
I think the lot of the Expat Journalists had it too good in China. Let’s face it, when you were in China, your editors let you write ridiculous and even silly stories on China, and no one would question your sources. No one at your work place cared. If you make up BS, (and we know there were plenty), you got away with it, because you were the “China hand”. If the Chinese media or the Chinese government called on your BS, it only made you look good, because you would say the evil Chinese were trying to suppress your story.
You had your fun, running amok in China. And you made a name for yourself.
But we also know that that’s why you really don’t want to go home. Because you realized, if you go home, you WILL be subjected to RULES/standards of journalism that you were not subjected to when you were in China (“self-censorship” as you called it).
Well, I think it’s good for you that the era of BS journalism in China is over. You don’t have to worry about “self-censorship” now you won’t be in China. You just have to deal with a different kind of “self-censorship” at home, which I’m sure you will get comfortable with very quickly.