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Monday, October 24, 2016

Beijing (AFP) – A New York Times reporter left Beijing Thursday after authorities did not grant him a visa, in a case that comes as Chinese authorities ratchet up pressure on foreign media.

Austin Ramzy, who has been based in China for more than six years, departed Beijing for Taipei, where he will be based.

“China is forcing out Austin Ramzy today after 6.5 years,” Times China correspondent Ed Wong wrote on Twitter.

“And we’re off. Next stop, Taipei,” Ramzy tweeted. In an earlier message, he wrote: “Sad to be leaving Beijing. Hope I can return soon.”

His departure comes a month after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden raised the issue of China’s treatment of foreign journalists privately with Chinese leaders during a visit to Beijing.

Beijing has blocked the websites of both the Times and Bloomberg News after they published investigations in 2012 into the family wealth of former premier Wen Jiabao and President Xi Jinping, respectively.

Authorities also reportedly conducted unannounced “inspections” of Bloomberg’s bureaux in Beijing and Shanghai last month and demanded an apology from its editor-in-chief amid a controversy over an unpublished article on the government ties of a Chinese billionaire.

China’s foreign ministry this week said that Ramzy’s journalist visa, which the newspaper applied for in June after he joined from Time magazine, would not be ready before the end of the month, effectively obliging him to leave.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC) said it “strongly regrets” that Ramzy “has been forced to leave” and criticized China’s behavior, saying it “falls well short of international standards”.

He is the third New York Times journalist to not be authorized to stay in China in 18 months, it pointed out in a statement.

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  • Haley Schmitterbach

    In the 5,880 words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, the word democracy isn’t mentioned once.