China Bans Journalists from Three Major U.S. Newspapers

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( — March 21, 2020) — The Chinese Foreign Ministry has ordered reporters from the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal to return their media passes in the next 10 days, NY Times reports.

“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 Chinese foreign ministry statement read.

These measures are in response to “unjustified restrictions on Chinese media in the United States,” the ministry said. At the beginning of the month, the Trump administration limited the number of Chinese nationals who can work as journalists in the US. The U.S. State Department reduced number of journalists of the five state-run Chinese media outlets from 160 down to 100, meaning that 60 would have to leave the country.

“What the United States has done is solely target Chinese media organizations,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Beijing to reconsider the decision, calling it “unfavorable”. “This isn’t apples to apples,” he said, according to the New York Times. “You all get to ask me whatever question you want and I give you the answer. We know that that kind of freedom doesn’t exist inside of China,” he said.

All foreign journalists in China have been asked to renew their annual press passes, which is usually done at the end of the calendar year.

This means that for most US reporters working for the three major US media outlets in question, visas will expire soon and they will have to leave China because of the newly introduced rules. It is not yet known exactly how many journalists are affected by this measure, but it is believed that there are no more than ten.

This will be a huge loss for these three media outlets, especially for the Wall Street Journal, since three journalists working for that paper have already been expelled from China last month after publishing an op-ed criticizing the Chinese response to coronavirus, titled “China is the Real Sick Man of Asia.”

Critics say this will be an even bigger loss for China itself – these draconian measures are being introduced at a time when the world needs high-quality journalism from China.

It is still unclear whether these U.S. media houses will send other journalists to China.

In the midst of a dangerous pandemic, two world powers are quarantined, while war between them erupts on multiple fronts. Fighting over the media, about the origins of the newly spread viruses, technology and commerce – the US and China are competing to prove whose political model is superior.

US President Donald Trump caused a sharp response from Chinese officials when he declared that the corona strain was a “Chinese” virus on Tuesday.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman has accused the US of stigmatization and claimed that the US Army might have “brought the epidemic to Wuhan.