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China is kicking NYT, WSJ, Wash. Post journalists out of the country

Chinese regulation of online activity (Methodshop/Flickr)
March 17, 2020

China has revoked the press credentials of U.S. journalists’ at major publications, effectively banning them from the country, in response to the Trump administration’s recent decision to reduce the cap on Chinese-controlled media entities in the United States.

China accused the United States in a statement on Tuesday of harboring a “growing discrimination” against the Chinese and “politically-motivated oppression” of its journalists in the United States. China-based journalists at the New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, notify the Department of Information of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs within four days starting Tuesday.

The journalists won’t be allowed to report anywhere in China. China will also take reciprocal measures against the journalists “with regard to visa, administrative review and reporting.”

Additionally, the three news organizations along with Time and Voice of America are being forced to “declare in written form information about their staff, finance, operation and real estate in China.”

China said the move was “in response to the US slashing the staff size of Chinese media outlets in the US, which is expulsion in all but name.”

Two weeks earlier, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ordered five Chinese-state owned media companies to cut its workforce in the United States by 40 percent. The five Chinese outlets affected were Xinhua News Agency, China Global Television Network, China Radio International, China Daily Distribution Corp. The fifth outlet, Hai Tian Development USA, is included under the cap, but won’t have to cut its staff since it only has two on its payroll.

Pomeo’s decision, which was announced March 2, was in response to China expelling three Wall Street Journal reporters in February for a “racially discriminatory” headline in an op-ed. The op-ed described China as the “real sick man of Asia.”

The Wall Street Journal defended its journalists, but apologized if the offended caused offense.

“As we have done in other areas of the U.S.-China relationship, we seek to establish a long-overdue level playing field. It is our hope that this action will spur Beijing to adopt a more fair and reciprocal approach to U.S. and other foreign press in China,” Pompeo wrote then. “We urge the Chinese government to immediately uphold its international commitments to respect freedom of expression, including for members of the press.”

In the Tuesday statement, China accuses the United States of being “driven by a Cold War mentality.”

“It has seriously tarnished the reputation and image of Chinese media organizations, seriously affected their normal operation in the US, and seriously disrupted people-to-people and cultural exchanges between the two countries,” the statement added. “It has therefore exposed the hypocrisy of the self-styled advocate of press freedom. China urges the US to immediately change course, undo the damage, and stop its political oppression and arbitrary restrictions on Chinese media organizations. Should the US choose to go further down the wrong path, it could expect more countermeasures from China.”

On Tuesday, Pompeo called China’s decision “unfortunate.”

“This isn’t apples to apples,” he told reporters at the State Department. “You all know the press freedoms you have…We know that that kind of freedom doesn’t exist inside of China.”

Matt Murray, editor in chief of the Journal, said in a tweet: “China’s unprecedented attack on freedom of the press comes at a time of unparalleled global crisis. Trusted news reporting from and about China has never been more important. We oppose government interference with a free press anywhere in the world.”

“Our commitment to reporting fully and deeply on China is unchanged,” Mr. Murray added.