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China Is Poised To Force 'Times' Reporter Out Of Country

In a move that's being seen as retaliation for negative stories about its leaders, China's government has told a New York Times reporter that he must leave the country when his visa expires Thursday. The government has not granted a request for a new visa that was made last summer.

The development comes despite objections from Vice President Joe Biden, who has urged senior officials in Beijing not to punish U.S. journalists with de facto expulsion.

From Beijing, NPR's Frank Langfitt reports for our Newscast unit:

"The correspondent, Austin Ramzy, has worked in China for six years. His visa expires Thursday and China's Foreign Ministry says it will not be renewed in time.

"Ramzy, previously a magazine reporter, applied for a new visa to work for The New York Times back in June. Officials here are citing an alleged technicality to refuse the visa.

"But move is widely seen as a way to punish The Times. In 2012, the newspaper published an expose that revealed the massive wealth of family members of China's then-Premier Wen Jiabao.

"The government sees such investigations as potentially explosive, because they undermine the Communist Party's claim to rule."

Two months after the story on Wen Jiabao ran in 2012, China did not renew the visa of another of the paper's reporters, Chris Buckley, who since then has been reporting about China from Hong Kong. The Times says Ramzy would also likely continue to report from outside the mainland if he's forced to leave.

The newspaper says that in addition to refusing to give Ramzy a visa, China "is also continuing to block a number of other journalists working for The Times and for Bloomberg News from taking up assignments in Beijing."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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