Bloomberg gets China press cards after tense delay

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BEIJING (AP) - Beijing has issued press credentials to financial news agency Bloomberg's China-based reporters after a tense delay seen as retaliation for the company's hard-hitting reports on the country's leaders.

The move marks a significant step toward obtaining residence visas that would allow them to stay in the country, after the government's earlier delay raised concerns China was effectively forcing out the organization's reporters. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden publicly rebuked Beijing on its treatment of U.S. journalists during his visit to China early this month.

Bloomberg's spokeswoman in Singapore, Belina Tan, confirmed Thursday by email the company has received all of its China press cards and was operating as usual.

Reporters with The New York Times have faced similar delays, but it was not immediately clear if they had received their Foreign Ministry-issued press cards.

"We are in contact with Chinese officials and remain hopeful that our resident journalists in the country will be issued visas that will allow them to continue to work there," The Times' spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said in an email.

The two news organizations have had their websites blocked in China since late last year after each published detailed investigative reports exposing the enormous wealth amassed by the relatives of Chinese leaders, including President Xi Jinping and former Premier Wen Jiabao.

The reporters still need police to grant them one-year residence permits but in most cases, obtaining such a permit is only a formality once the foreign ministry endorses the person by issuing a press card.

Asked about the delay, China's foreign ministry said only that it treats foreign journalists according to Chinese laws and regulations.

Worries about China's increasing pressure on foreign reporters prompted Biden to meet with U.S. journalists working in Beijing during his visit and also to raise the issue directly with Xi.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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