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China to expel American journalists from three news outlets, monitor others

Reporters from the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal face ban
China to expel American journalists from three news outlets, monitor others
China to expel American journalists from three news outlets

ITDC INDIA EPRESS/ ITDC NEWS Two weeks after the United States imposed a cap on the number of employees Chinese state-run media outlets could have in the US, Beijing has reciprocated by announcing on Tuesday that American journalists from three news outlets whose press licenses expire in 2020 would be expelled from China.

The announcement was made by the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The outlets include the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. In addition, the ministry demanded that journalists from these companies as well as those working with Voice of America and with Time magazine provide the Chinese government with information about their operations including "information about their staff, finance, operation and real estate in China".

According to a press release by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the move to monitor the operations of the five outlets was a response to the designation as “foreign missions” of five Chinese media agencies—Xinhua News Agency, China Global Television Network, China Radio International, China Daily’s parent company and the People Daily’s parent company, that the US announced in February.

It also said that the move to expel the American journalists from the three outlets was a response to the US move to slash the staff size of Chinese media outlets in the US, which it termed “expulsion in all but name.”

According to the ministry, “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.”

The release said that these 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.” It added that future restrictions could also be announced. "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," it said.

According to the New York Times, most of the American reporters for these three organisations have press cards that expire this year. Since the press cards are linked to their visas, they will effectively have to leave the country after surrendering them.

The ministry said that these measures were “entirely necessary and reciprocal countermeasures” and that it urges the US to “immediately change course, undo the damage, and stop its political oppression and arbitrary restrictions on Chinese media organizations.”

It added that foreign media organizations and journalists “who cover stories in accordance with laws and regulations” are always welcome in China. “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.”

China has had tussles with some of the aforementioned news organisations before. On February 19, China demanded that the Wall Street Journal apologise for an opinion article titled “China is the real sick man of Asia”, and later announced that three WSJ journalists would be expelled from the country in retaliation for it.

In 2019, China was ranked 177/180 in the World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders. 

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