Fri, Apr 21, 2006 - Page 3 News List

White House bans foreign press during Bush-Hu talks

By Nadia Tsao  /  STAFF REPORTER , WASHINGTON

Not only has Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) refused to hold a joint press conference with US President George W. Bush during his visit to the US, but the US has banned members of the foreign press from reporting from inside the White House.

Originally, the Foreign Press Center of the US Department of State announced that it would only be allowing a very limited number of foreign reporters into the White House to interview Hu during his welcoming ceremony.

However, a National Security Council (NSC) official told the Liberty Times (sister newspaper of the Taipei Times) yesterday that due to the Secret Service's reservations about letting foreign media into the White House, only the Chinese reporters in Hu's entourage and US reporters would be allowed to report from inside the White House.

The official also said that such restrictions would apply to other foreign correspondents besides the Taiwanese press. Currently, very few foreign correspondents have White House press clearance due to strict vetting.

No Taiwanese correspondents possess White House clearance, and in the past all have had to pre-register and provide authorities with their passports, Social Security numbers and other personal information, before being allowed to enter the White House.

According to the new regulations as stated by the NSC, all Taiwanese press members who are not US citizens will be excluded from reporting from the White House, effective immediately.

The Taiwanese media has formally protested the decision. The NSC denies it bowed to Chinese demands in denying foreign reporters White House access.

The decision however had caught the attention the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, which is currently investigating whether the Taiwanese press is being unfairly discriminated against by the US government.

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