(Repeats to media clients)
BEIJING Dec 5 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
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."
When asked about Biden's remarks, China's foreign ministry
said the country manages foreign reporters according to law.
"In recent years, we have provided an extremely convenient
atmosphere for foreign reporters reporting in China, and the
results have been plain for all to see," ministry spokesman Hong
Lei said at a regular press briefing.
"For the working and living environment for foreign
reporters - if you take an objective and just view, you will be
able to reach a correct conclusion," Hong said.
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,
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
China says foreign media are granted wide-ranging freedoms.
(Reporting by Michael Martina and Ben Blanchard; Writing by
Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Ryan Woo)