China has escalated its war on US news outlets - ordering at least seven Chinese nationals in Beijing to stop working for American news outlets, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Those ordered dismissed include employees for the New York Times, Voice of America and two other outlets, according to the report.
"China appears determined to crush the news gathering operations of major U.S. outlets in Beijing, this time by taking punishing measures against local Chinese employees, said CPJ's Asia program coordinator. "This action will not stop the ongoing tit-for-tat between China and the United States, and may escalate it. China should stop trying to control and intimidate foreign news bureaus and allow them to hire Chinese staff freely and directly."
Days earlier, Beijing officials expelled over a dozen US journalists working for the NY Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post - a counter to the US placing a cap on how many Chinese journalists can work in the United States, according to Bloomberg.
In addition, China's foreign ministry ordered the publications to submit written declarations with information about their staff, finances, real estate and operations in China after the US ordered five Chinese state-owned media companies to be classified as "foreign missions."
The tit-for-tat exemplifies how fraught U.S.-China ties have become despite the signing of a phase-one trade deal in January and calls for more global cooperation to contain the coronavirus. In addition to media, the countries have also feuded over the use of “Chinese virus” by U.S. officials to describe the outbreak and an assertion by a Chinese official that the the U.S. military spread the virus.
Foreign news outlets in China are barred from directly employing Chinese nationals. They are instead employed through the Beijing Personnel Service Corporation for Diplomatic Missions, which is affiliated with the foreign ministry. It was this agency that dismissed members of U.S. media in the past few days, the Washington-based Committee to Protect Journalists said. -Bloomberg
During a Thursday briefing by the Chinese foreign ministry, spokesman Geng Shuang said that "relevant authorities manage the employees of foreign media in accordance with laws and regulations," according to the report.