In the latest escalation of tensions, China announced on Tuesday that it would expel all American journalists working for the New York Times, WSJ and the Washington Post. It also demanded that those outlets - as well as VOA and Time Magazine - provide the Chinese government with detailed information about their operations in the country, the NYT reports. These include "all written materials" including staff finances, operations and real estate information in China.
Experts described the move, which was retaliation for the Trump Administration limiting the numbers of Chinese citizens who can work for Chinese media agencies in the US.
Per the new measures, Beijing's media bureau has instructed American journalists "whose press credentials are due to expire before the end of 2020” to “notify the Department of Information of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs within four calendar days starting from today and hand back their press cards within ten calendar days."
The statement continued to specify that the expelled journalists "will not be allowed to continue working as journalists in the People’s Republic of China, including its Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions." China has kicked journalists out of the mainland before, but trying to bar them from HK or Macau is a first.
Hua Chunying, a prominent government spokesperson for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said these were necessary countermeasures to fight back against the Trump Administration's "cold war mentality."
The decisions are entirely necessary countermeasures that China has been forced to take because of the unreasonable oppression that Chinese media organizations experience in the US. They are legitimate, justified self-defense in every sense.
One American reporter described the move as "unprecedented."
Bloody Tuesday.— B. Allen-Ebrahimian (@BethanyAllenEbr) March 17, 2020
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs just announced it is expelling all the American reporters at Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Post.
And not allowing them to work in HONG KONG either. Unprecedented.https://t.co/OiwQ783v9l
Though the decision was likely in the works for weeks, as Beijing threatened retaliation after Trump expelled the reporter, it's notable that these expulsions are arriving following Trump's decision to double down on the phrase "Chinese Virus" to refer to the novel coronavirus.
The journalists being expelled include the NYT's Edward Wong, a diplomatic correspondent for the NYT and Harvard Nieman Fellow.
Shortly before the news broke, Wong tweeted that Chinese diplomats around the world are pushing propaganda to try and "bury" the flaws in the Chinese governance model that helped perpetuate the Wuhan outbreak, which could have easily been nipped in the bud.
Chinese diplomats around the world are now engaged in pushing propaganda to try to bury how flaws in the Chinese Communist Party’s governance model — notably its lack of transparency — helped lead to the Wuhan outbreak months ago. This effort damages China’s credibility. https://t.co/50dCET5a8d— Edward Wong (@ewong) March 17, 2020
Breaking: China retaliates against new US policy on Chinese state-run media. Says 5 US organizations are now “foreign missions.” Demands US citizens working for NYT, Wash Post & WSJ turn over press cards in 10 days & stop work. Can’t report in HK or Macau. https://t.co/nnpvlg2aD9— Edward Wong (@ewong) March 17, 2020
Of course Beijing is furious that President Trump keeps calling Covid-19 the "Chinese Virus" - but not because it's racist, because the CCP is trying to convince the Chinese people that the virus came from the US.
Read the full statement from China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs below:
In recent years, the US government has placed unwarranted restrictions on Chinese media agencies and personnel in the US, purposely made things difficult for their normal reporting assignments, and subjected them to growing discrimination and politically-motivated oppression. For instance, in December 2018, the US ordered certain Chinese media organizations in the US to register as "foreign agents"; in February 2020, it designated five Chinese media entities in the US as "foreign missions" and imposed a cap on the number of their employees, in effect expelling Chinese journalists from the US. Such outrageous treatment prompted strong representations from China, in which China firmly objected to and strongly condemned the US move, and stressed its reserved right to respond and take actions.
China hereby announces the following measures, effective immediately:
First, in response to the US designation of five Chinese media agencies as "foreign missions", China demands, in the spirit of reciprocity, that the China-based branches of Voice of America, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and Time declare in written form information about their staff, finance, operation and real estate in China.
Second, in response to the US slashing the staff size of Chinese media outlets in the US, which is expulsion in all but name, China demands that journalists of US citizenship working with the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post whose press credentials are due to expire before the end of 2020 notify the Department of Information of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs within four calendar days starting from today and hand back their press cards within ten calendar days. They will not be allowed to continue working as journalists in the People's Republic of China, including its Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions.
Third, in response to the discriminatory restrictions the US has imposed on Chinese journalists with regard to visa, administrative review and reporting, China will take reciprocal measures against American journalists.
The above-mentioned measures are entirely necessary and reciprocal countermeasures that China is compelled to take in response to the unreasonable oppression the Chinese media organizations experience in the US. They are legitimate and justified self-defense in every sense. What the US has done is exclusively targeting Chinese media organizations, and hence driven by a Cold War mentality and ideological bias. 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. 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.
China's fundamental state policy of opening-up has not changed and will not change. Foreign media organizations and journalists who cover stories in accordance with laws and regulations are always welcome in China, and will get continued assistance from our side. What we reject is ideological bias against China, fake news made in the name of press freedom, and breaches of ethics in journalism. We call on foreign media outlets and journalists to play a positive role in advancing the mutual understanding between China and the rest of the world.