Hong Kong foreign reporters face unusual visa problems | News | DW | 06.08.2020
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Hong Kong foreign reporters face unusual visa problems

Hong Kong's Foreign Correspondents Club claims several reporters, primarily from the United States, are having trouble working. The club said reporters have become the latest pawns in the US-China spat.

Hong Kong's Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC) said Thursday that several reporters in the city were experiencing "highly unusual" visa issues and demanded both China and the US stop using journalists as a political weapon.

Foreign reporters typically require a business visa to work in Hong Kong. But several US-based outlets have had a difficult time obtaining visas for their employees in recent weeks. Last month, the New York Times announced it would relocate some of its staff from Hong Kong to South Korea after several reporters faced delays and one visa rejection.

Read more: Can free press in Hong Kong survive national security law?

The statement comes after the US and China have clashed in recent weeks over various issues, including each country's respective response to the pandemic, China's treatment of Hong Kong, and the ongoing trade dispute.

Both countries have forced diplomatic offices in each other's respective countries to close. These spats have included journalists as well, as China banned some American reporters from working in China and Hong Kong and the US banned some Chinese reporters.

"The FCC opposes using journalists' visas as a weapon in international disputes and also opposes taking action against journalists for the decisions made by their home country," read an FCC statement.

"This downward spiral of retaliatory actions aimed at journalists helps no one, not least of all the public that needs accurate, professionally produced information now more than ever," it added.

Hong Kong's government has not explained any changes to its policies for foreign journalists working in the city. The FCC warned there would be consequences from abroad if press freedom was restricted and journalists were targeted.

"Restricting journalists in Hong Kong by reducing their numbers and interfering with their ability to report freely will damage Hong Kong's international standing and reputation."

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