Times China Correspondent Chris Buckley Forced to Leave China

Chris Buckley, a correspondent for The New York Times, and his family had to leave mainland China and fly to Hong Kong today because his visa was not renewed, the Times reports. Mr. Buckley has worked in China since 2000 and returned to the Times in September after reporting for Reuters. Although the Times applied for Mr. Buckley’s visa transfer at the time, the Chinese authorities failed to grant the journalist credentials before the start of 2013.

“I regret that Chris Buckley has been forced to relocate outside of China despite our repeated requests to renew his journalist visa,” Jill Abramson, the executive editor of The Times, said in the statement. “I hope the Chinese authorities will issue him a new visa as soon as possible and allow Chris and his family to return to Beijing. I also hope that Phil Pan, whose application for journalist credentials has been pending for months, will also be issued a visa to serve as our bureau chief in Beijing.”

The Times’s new Beijing bureau chief, Philip P. Pan, is also waiting for a visa. Mr. Pan applied in March.

Meanwhile, Chinese access to both the English-language Times website and the new Chinese-language site remains blocked after the paper published an investigation into Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s family’s fortune.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment on the visa issues or whether the delay is linked to the paper’s China coverage. The six other Times correspondents in China have had their visas renewed–including David Barboza, Shanghai bureau chief and author of the articles about the prime minster’s family.