China denies visa to Swiss journalist ahead of Sino-Swiss Economic Forum

Swiss journalist union 'Impressum' has condemned the attempts of Beijing to censor the press

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Swiss Federal Councillor and Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann.

Swiss Federal Councillor and Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann. (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A Swiss journalist working for the French language newspaper “Le Temps”was denied a visa to enter China, and was unable to report on the visit  of Swiss Federal Councilor and Economics chief Johann Schneider-Ammann to Beijing last week for the Sino-Swiss Economic Forum.

In response to the news that the Swiss journalist, Frederic Koller, would not be allowed access to the Minister’s visit, a Swiss journalist’s union “Impressum” made a statement reprimanding the Chinese government, and also declaring that “Journalists are not idiots.”

Swiss Councilor Johann Schneider-Ammann led a Swiss delegation to Beijing from Sept. 5 through Sept. 9. Before the visit, Chinese authorities rejected the visa request for the “Le Temps” reporter.

The newspaper said that the decision was regrettable, and questioned why the Swiss delegation did not formally protest the rejection of Koller, reports Liberty Times. “Le Temps” regrets the lack of support from the Swiss government regarding the matter.

Koller is reportedly very familiar with Asian affairs, and has been reporting on China and regional issues for over 20 years. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has offered no explanation for denying his visa application.

Impressum released a statement calling the rejection of Koller’s application outrageous, and strongly condemned the tactics China uses to suppress and avoid coverage by the press. The statement said that China should be embarrassed by their own actions.

According to reports from swissinfo.ch, Schneider-Ammann was there to negotiate over unfair policies with regard to joint ventures between Swiss and Chinese companies, and recent fears that China is engaging in a strategic campaign of buying out and taking over domestic Swiss businesses.

Recently, a Japanese journalist with the "Sankei" newspaper was also singled out by Beijing authorities and his access was denied to a recent ministerial-level meeting between Japanese Vice-Foreign Minister Takeo Akiba and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

In response, the entire Beijing-based Japanese press corps chose to boycott the meeting.