The US Should Make Journalist Visas An Economic Issue. Because It Is One

A US-China Bilateral Investment Treaty is near the top of the cooperation agenda for the two nations. It would be an important agreement for both sides, and China may in fact want it even more than the US does.

One of the prerequisites for good investing is accurate information. If China continues to tighten its restrictions on American journalists and/or if the US retaliates by limiting PRC journalists in the US, information flow will diminish markedly and businesses and governments on both sides will be unable to make informed investment decisions. Preaching to the Chinese about American values will not help move the Chinese on this issue, but making it about economics might.

The US should link the journalist issue to the bilateral investment treaty negotiations by insisting the agreement contains language guaranteeing fair treatment of each others’ correspondents, a reciprocal number of journalist visas etc.

That message needs to come from the White House before the end of the year. If Beijing balks the Obama administration should call off the BIT talks.