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China, US to relax visa curbs for media workers

File photo of the US visa. (PHOTO / IC)

China and the United States will permit journalists and other media workers to freely move between both countries on the condition they strictly comply with COVID-19 control protocols.

Sources with the Foreign Ministry told China Daily that easing media visa controls was one of three points agreed between the two sides ahead of Tuesday's virtual meeting between President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden.

Sources with the Foreign Ministry told China Daily that easing media visa controls was one of three points agreed between the two sides ahead of Tuesday's virtual meeting between President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden

It was agreed that the US will issue one-year multiple-entry visas to Chinese media workers and will immediately initiate a process to address "duration of status" issues.

Based on the principle of reciprocity, the Chinese side commits to granting equal treatment to US journalists immediately after the relevant US policies come into force, the sources said.

China and the US will issue media visas for new applicants based on relevant laws and regulations, the sources added.

The consensus was the result of more than a year of difficult negotiations over the treatment of media outlets in both countries.

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Calling the agreement good news for journalists from both nations, the sources said that it also reflected the "new normal" of China and the US looking at and treating each other in an equal manner.

The consensus also showed that as long as the two countries calmly communicate in the spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, they can reach consensus on issues that provide reciprocal benefits, the sources said.

It is hoped that more good news is ahead for the two countries' media outlets through further China-US cooperation, they added.

Previously, Chinese media workers had to reapply for a one-year US visa if they left for a short period or to visit family in China. The single-entry visa for Chinese journalists was due to the discriminatory policies the US instituted for Chinese journalists stationed in the US, the sources said. Since 2018, the US has denied visas to more than 20 Chinese journalists without giving cause.

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In May last year, US authorities even limited the visa period for Chinese journalists to no more than 90 days, requiring them to apply for an extension every three months.