Biden says disputes remain over treatment of U.S. journalists in China
BEIJING Dec 5 (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said on Thursday that the United States and China have "profound disagreements" over the treatment of American journalists in the country.
The comments by Biden are the highest-level statement out of Washington on the state of press freedoms in China.
Biden's statement came two days after the United Kingdom protested to China for barring a Bloomberg News reporter from an event in Beijing attended by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and British Prime Minister David Cameron. The reporter had travelled to China to cover Cameron's visit.
Biden, addressing U.S. executives in Beijing, said "innovation will thrive where people breathe freely, speak freely, are able to challenge orthodoxy, where newspapers can report the truth without fear of consequences".
"We have many disagreements, some profound disagreements on some of those issues right now - the treatment of U.S. journalists," Biden said.
"But I believe China will be stronger, more stable and more innovative if it respects universal human rights."
The Chinese foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Biden's remarks.
Biden's comments illustrate Washington's concern over China's intensified efforts to restrict the activities of foreign news organisations.
Both the New York Times Co and Bloomberg News have not been given new journalist visas for more than a year after they published stories about the wealth of family members of former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and President Xi Jinping, respectively.
In November, the Chinese government rejected the visa application of Paul Mooney, an American journalist whom Thomson Reuters had extended an offer to work in China.
Foreign reporters working in China face numerous difficulties, including lack of access to top officials and harassment and even violence when covering sensitive events like protests.
China says foreign media is granted wide-ranging freedoms.