China and the U.S. are considering bilateral visa system for journalists

In a move that signals a possible thawing in the U.S.-China relationship, a U.S. government official told the Associated Press the two countries will impose a temporary visa system on journalists from both countries until improved relations “can be achieved.” In addition, the goal is to ensure those given visas for individual countries are suitable for the coverage.

Since last year, when the U.S. imposed tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Chinese imports, the two countries have imposed tariffs on tens of billions of dollars worth of each other’s goods. Officials noted that the United States and China have common interests and “the time is right to correct course.”

“We are confident that the two countries will successfully address their differences and that the two nations will achieve win-win outcomes,” the official added.

The agreement will likely come as a relief to journalists in China, where the government maintains tight control over the media and denied exit visas to a number of veteran journalists ahead of this month’s meetings with the U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. They have also been subject to threats to their lives.

With liberalizing economic growth boosting the Chinese economy, some analysts have suggested that China has become a soft power threat to the U.S. Meanwhile, Chinese authorities have continued to block access to websites including the U.S. web-based news outlet The Epoch Times, and the Times’ traditional North American and European counterparts.

The letter of intent to enhance media access comes as a separate State Department document declared that the two nations “are in agreement that maintaining constructive relations is key to the achievement of U.S. interests.” The document also said both countries “will continue to promote and expand high-quality, mutually beneficial cooperative projects.”

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson released a statement saying that Beijing welcomes the U.S. and China announcing a “viable and functional communication mechanism in the field of media.”

Read the full story at The Associated Press.

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