U.S., China agree to ease visa restrictions for journalists

© Kyodo News

The United States and China have agreed to ease visa restrictions on journalists from each country after they were tightened last year amid deteriorating bilateral relations, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said Tuesday.

The announcement came a day after U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping met virtually for their first summit talks as leaders of their respective countries. According to a Biden administration official, the visa issue was not discussed between them.

Last year, the two countries took tit-for-tat measures to restrict the media sector, with China expelling American journalists working for some major U.S. newspapers and the administration of then President Donald Trump limiting visas for Chinese journalists to 90 days.

Under the latest agreement, the United States and China will issue one-year visas to journalists from the other country. Beijing has also agreed to permit U.S. journalists already in China to freely depart and return, something they had previously been unable to do.

"We welcome this progress but see it simply as initial steps," the State Department spokesperson said, adding that the United States will continue to work toward expanding access and improving conditions for U.S. and other foreign media, and advocate for media freedom as a reflection of its democratic values.