Vice President Biden met with a group of American journalists in China after criticizing the country’s treatment of them.
Biden, who brought up the issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping, said China would be stronger and more stable if it respected human rights.
“We have many disagreements, and some profound disagreements, on some of those issues right now, in the treatment of U.S. journalists,” he told a group of business leaders in China on Wednesday.
The visit with journalists included U.S. citizens as well as noncitizens working for U.S. publications.
Biden is on a weeklong swing through the region. He visited China and Japan earlier this week and landed in South Korea on Thursday.
Biden advised that innovation could only happen in a free society.
“Because history tells us that innovation is the currency of 21st century success,” Biden said. “Innovation thrives where people breathe freely, speak freely, are able to challenge orthodoxy, where newspapers can report the truth without fear of consequences."
The New York Times reported that China is stalling nearly 24 applications for visa renewals for journalists from the Times and Bloomberg News for reporting on the wealth of Chinese leaders.
Without a renewal to work in the country, some journalists would be forced to leave within weeks, the Times reported.
The newspaper's executive editor, Jill Abramson, quoted in her own publication, said unfettered coverage is crucial.
“At a time when China is such an important and compelling story, the world needs the highest quality reporting on it,” she said.
Biden said a sensitivity to human rights violations is stamped in the DNA of the United States but also said the country is not without its own faults.
“It is who we are,” Biden said. “Not that we're the citadel of human rights; we have much progress to make ourselves.”
A spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, Hong Lei, was quoted in Agence France-Presse saying China is “a very convenient environment for news coverage … as long as you are objective and just, I think an objective conclusion can be reached on that.”