China announced on Tuesday it was revoking the media credentials for journalists from three major U.S. outlets: The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.
The Wall Street Journal reported the move by Beijing marked the “largest expulsion of foreign journalists in the post-Mao era, amid an escalating battle with the Trump administration over media operating in the two countries.”
According to the paper, journalists whose media credentials were due to expire at the end of the year have been given 10 calendar days to turn them over to the Chinese government.
Those individuals included in the order are not permitted to report from China, nor from the semi-autonomous territories of Hong Kong or Macau.
Additionally, Beijing is requiring the three media outlets, as well as Voice of America and Time magazine, “to submit information about staff, finances, operations and real estate in China,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
Voice of America is the only one of the five that is owned by the U.S. government.
The actions are “reciprocal countermeasures that China is compelled to take in response to the unreasonable oppression the Chinese media organizations experience in the U.S.,” China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, citing a spokesperson.
“The cap applies to the five Chinese state media entities operating in the United States that have been designated as foreign missions, which recognizes that they are effectively controlled by the PRC government,” the statement read.
“Unlike foreign media organizations in China, these entities are not independent news organizations.”
The Wall Street Journal reported the cap took the number of Chinese nationals working in the U.S. at the state-run media outlets down from 160 to 100.
At a news briefing from the State Department on Tuesday, Pompeo urged China to reverse course regarding the removal of journalists.
“This isn’t apples to apples,” Pompeo said regarding China’s move against The Wall Street Journal, The Times and The Post.
“You all know the press freedoms you have,” he said. “We know that that kind of freedom doesn’t exist inside of China.”
“The Chinese will tell you that they want more information, people to know more about their country, and yet they continue to take actions like the one you see today, where they deny the world the capacity to know what’s really going on inside of their country,” Pompeo added.
The secretary of state went on to explain that the Chinese journalists ordered to leave the U.S. earlier this month “were not media that were acting here freely.”
“They were part of Chinese propaganda outlets,” he said.
Matt Murray, editor in chief of The Wall Street Journal, chastised China for making the move against journalists, particularly amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“China’s unprecedented attack on freedom of the press comes at a time of unparalleled global crisis,” he tweeted.
Here’s my statement on China’s action against US journalists https://t.co/U3n5cp3UON
— Matt Murray (@murraymatt) March 17, 2020
“Trusted news reporting from and about China has never been more important. We oppose government interference with a free press anywhere in the world.”
Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The Times, also condemned China’s move.
He called it “especially irresponsible at a time when the world needs the free and open flow of credible information about the coronavirus pandemic.”
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