The White House National Security Council (NSC) responded to the Chinese government’s decision to kick out journalists from major U.S. news publications in China on Tuesday, describing China’s actions as an effort to suppress information.
“The Chinese Communist Party’s decision to expel journalists from China and Hong Kong is yet another step toward depriving the Chinese people and the world of access to true information about China,” the NSC said in a tweet first reported by National Review.
The Chinese Communist Party’s decision to expel journalists from China and Hong Kong is yet another step toward depriving the Chinese people and the world of access to true information about China. (1/2)
— NSC (@WHNSC) March 17, 2020
In a second tweet, the NSC called on China to focus its efforts away from targeting reporters and spreading disinformation and towards contributing to solutions to stop the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
The United States calls on China’s leaders to refocus their efforts from expelling journalists and spreading disinformation to joining all nations in stopping the Wuhan coronavirus. (2/2)
— NSC (@WHNSC) March 17, 2020
The second NSC tweet specifically referred to the coronavirus as the “Wuhan coronavirus,” echoing assessments that the disease first appeared in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The tweet also appeared to point to recent claims by a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry who suggested the U.S. Army initiated the spread of the coronavirus in Wuhan.
In a Tuesday press briefing, President Donald Trump addressed the Chinese official’s claims as well as criticism for his repeated reference to coronavirus as the “Chinese virus.” Trump said referring to the virus by its place of origin, China, was not only accurate, but also warranted after China started its rumors against the U.S. Army. The NSC tweet appeared to back Trump’s assessment of the dispute with China.
The Chinese government said that its decision Tuesday to expel U.S. journalists from the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, was a response to a U.S. decision to label five Chinese state-owned media outlets as foreign missions of the Chinese government and to place restrictions on employees of those outlets.
The U.S. decision to negatively label Chinese state-owned media outlets came after China expelled three WSJ reporters in February after the outlet published an opinion article critical of China’s handling of coronavirus. The opinion article in question, titled “China Is The Real Sick Man of Asia,” was written by columnist Walter Russell Mead.
“Chairman Xi is terrified of a free and independent press because he doesn’t want to be challenged when his government regularly spews insane propaganda – like the recent conspiracy theory that the United States created the coronavirus. These thin-skinned communist hacks hate the truth and are committed to covering-up their failures,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) said in a Tuesday statement following China’s most recent round of expulsions.
“The Chinese Communist Party only cares about establishing Xi Jinping’s voice as the one source of ‘objective news’ in and out of China – that’s why ‘journalists’ from state-run outlets are employees of the Chinese Communist Party. Chairman Xi can expel all the real journalists he wants, but he can’t change the fact that his coronavirus cover-up killed thousands of his own people and put the world at risk,” Sasse’s statement continued.