Off the Record

Greta: We are being had by China

'Off the Record,' 11/10/14: President Obama's visa deal with China makes one glaring omission - American journalists


By Greta Van Susteren

Well, let's all go "Off the Record." I smell a rat. China. And I don't want us to be had, but guess what? We have been.

President Obama signed a reciprocal visa deal with China, which extends visas to five years and tourist visas to 10 years. Same goes U.S. citizens in China. But - and there is a "but" - a glaring omission. President Obama did not demand that journalists' visas be part of the deal.

China has a horrible history of restricting the press both foreign and domestic. If the Chinese government doesn't like a story written about itself, China will block the English language news websites, delay or deny visas to the journalists of the so-called offending American news organizations.

Visa restrictions have plagued reporters at the New York Times, Bloomberg, Reuters. China once denied me a transit visa. That meant I could not change planes in the Beijing airport. And I was not seeking to stay in China or report a story. I just wanted to change planes to go on to North Korea. They would not let me.

Now, President Obama is going to reportedly bring up the issue of the journalist visa with the Chinese. But It's a little late. He has already signed the visa deal. After the facts, it seems pretty late to me. So right now, what we have a lopsided deal that favors the Chinese.

And by the way, the United States does not exclude Chinese journalists. We respect freedom of the press, so we're being had by this one. And that's my "Off the Record" comment tonight.