Beijing announced Tuesday that it was revoking press credentials of American reporters working for the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal — kicking them out of China in retaliation for US restrictions on its journalists.
China also ordered that those newspapers, as well as the Voice of America and Time magazine, turn over detailed information about their staffing, finances, operations and real estate in China.
The Foreign Ministry said the action was in response to Washington’s recent decision to slash the number of Chinese nationals allowed to work for Chinese state-run media on US soil in retaliation for what it called Beijing’s “long-standing intimidation and harassment of journalists.”
The US journalists — whose press credentials are due to expire before the end of this year — must notify Chinese authorities within four days and hand back their press passes within 10 days, the ministry said.
“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,” the ministry’s statement said.
“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,” it said. “They are legitimate and justified self-defense in every sense.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the move “unfortunate” and said he hoped Beijing would reconsider.
“I regret China’s decision today to further foreclose the world’s ability to conduct the free press operations that, frankly, would be really good for the Chinese people in these incredibly challenging global times, where more information, more transparency are what will save lives,” the top US diplomat said at a State Department press conference.
Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron told The Post in a statement that “we unequivocally condemn any action by China to expel U.S. reporters.
“The Chinese government’s decision is particularly regrettable because it comes in the midst of an unprecedented global crisis, when clear and reliable information about the international response to covid-19 is essential,” Baron added.
“Severely limiting the flow of that information, which China now seeks to do, only aggravates the situation.”
Matt Murray, editor in chief of the Wall Street Journal, said in a statement: “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,” he told The Post.
In early March, Washington announced that five state-controlled Chinese media outlets would be restricted to 100 visas — a de facto expulsion of about a third of their Chinese employees.
It cited mounting surveillance, harassment and intimidation of US and other foreign journalists working in China.
The Chinese news outlets — which employ about 160 Chinese citizens in the United States — include the official Xinhua News Agency and China Global Television Network, the international arm of state broadcaster CCTV.
Beijing has already expelled three other Wall Street Journal staffers — two Americans and one Australian — over what it considered a racist headline by the paper.
But that order had been viewed by some observers as a tit-for-tat move over the US decision to reclassify Chinese state-run media operating in the US as foreign missions, according to Agence France-Presse.
The New York Times did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
With Post wires