Today, Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Randy Forbes (R-VA), and Ted Poe (R-TX) introduced H.R. 2899, the Chinese Media Reciprocity Act of 2011. The bill would require the Department of State to issue the same number of visas to Chinese state-media workers as China issues to American journalists working for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).
During Fiscal Year 2010 approximately 650 Chinese citizens entered the United States on I Visas (international journalist visas), compared to only two American BBG journalist's granted permission to be stationed in mainland China.
"There is a very alarming disparity between the number of Chinese state media workers whom we grant visas to and the number of visas the Chinese grant to their American counterparts," said Rohrabacher.
"We would welcome any free and independent Chinese reporters if such a thing existed. Every one of these reporters is an agent of the Chinese government and works for a news organization under control of the Communist Party in China. Chinese news agencies operating in the USA are not subject to censorship or purposeful disruption and they are free to broadcast as much communist propaganda as they like on U.S. soil."
"By contrast, our two U.S. correspondents in China are routinely harassed by Chinese police and have been assaulted and detained by Chinese officials seeking to block their work. Voice of America and Radio Free Asia have been regularly jammed by the Communist Chinese for years."
H.R. 2899 would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to ensure open and free journalism access in China by enforcing the established reciprocal relationship between the number of visas issued to state media workers from each country. The bill would also require revocation of a sufficient number of I visas issued to Chinese state media workers 30 days after its enactment in order to reach parity with the number of visas issued by China for BBG employees seeking entry to China.
Rep. Rohrabacher offered a similar amendment to the FY 2012 U.S. Department of State Authorization Bill, which passed during the full committee markup over the summer.
Rohrabacher is a member of the China Caucus and senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives.