Biden Prods Beijing on Journalists’ Treatment as China Trip Ends

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said China should expand press freedoms and ease policies that punish U.S. news organizations for critical coverage of Beijing, citing a “profound” disagreement between the U.S. and the world’s second-largest economy over its approach.

“We have many disagreements, and some profound disagreements, on some of those issues right now, in the treatment of U.S. journalists,” Biden told the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing and the U.S.-China Business Council on the second day of a two-day visit to Beijing.

During a private meeting with President Xi Jinping, Biden also raised the issue of visas for foreign journalists, according to a U.S. official familiar with the conversations who asked for anonymity to describe the talks.

The Chinese government, which renews visas annually, hasn’t yet approved those of journalists from Bloomberg News and the New York Times, and those journalists would face expulsion if the visas are not renewed. Both news organizations have published articles investigating the wealth of relatives of Chinese leaders.

The vice president addressed the business leaders before departing for South Korea. Innovation thrives where people “are able to challenge orthodoxy, where newspapers can report the truth without fear of consequences,” he said.

During his stop in Beijing, Biden spent hours in private meetings with Xi, and expressed U.S. opposition to China’s announcement of an air defense zone over the East China Sea.

He also met with journalists from news outlets including Bloomberg News that have been affected by China’s crackdown. The meeting with Biden and representatives from Bloomberg, the Financial Times, the New York Times, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal was held on condition that the details of the conversation would remain private.

“I believe China will be stronger and more stable and more innovative if it respects universal human rights,” Biden said in his speech.

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