The Chinese government announced on Tuesday that it is revoking the press credentials of reporters from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post as tensions mount over the Communist regime's restrictions on the press.
"China demands that journalists of U.S. 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," China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced. "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."
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China says it is taking this step as recompense for the Trump administration's recent decision to limit the number of Chinese state-controlled reporters operating in the United States.
The expulsion of these American media outlets comes on the heels of China's recent decision to eject three WSJ reporters from the country in response to the paper's publishing of an op-ed that Beijing deemed overly critical. That piece, authored by Walter Russell Mead, was the subject of debate in the WSJ newsroom after some worried it would provoke Chinese authorities.
Tensions between China and the American press have been simmering for weeks over reports highlighting the Communist Party's inadequate response to the coronavirus. U.S. lawmakers and experts have accused Beijing of failing to provide accurate updates about the virus's spread and containment efforts.
In addition to ejecting these outlets, authorities will now require that "China-based branches of Voice of America, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and Time declare in written form information about their staff, finance, operation and real estate in China," according to the announcement.
China said it is taking these steps due to what it says is the Trump administration's unfair treatment of its reporters in the United States.
The new 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 U.S.," the Foreign Ministry said. "They are legitimate and justified self-defense in every sense. What the U.S. has done is exclusively targeting Chinese media organizations, and hence driven by a Cold War mentality and ideological bias. It has seriously tarnished the reputation and image of Chinese media organizations, seriously affected their normal operation in the U.S., and seriously disrupted people-to-people and cultural exchanges between the two countries."
"China will take reciprocal measures against American journalists," the ministry vowed.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R., Neb.), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said China's move is yet another sign that it is "terrified of a free and independent press."
"Chairman Xi is terrified of a free and independent press because he doesn't want to be challenged when his government regularly spews insane propaganda—like the recent conspiracy theory that the United States created the coronavirus," Sasse said. "These thin-skinned communist hacks hate the truth and are committed to covering-up their failures. The Chinese Communist Party only cares about establishing Xi Jinping's voice as the one source of ‘objective news' in and out of China—that's why ‘journalists' from state-run outlets are employees of the Chinese Communist Party. Chairman Xi can expel all the real journalists he wants, but he can't change the fact that his coronavirus cover-up killed thousands of his own people and put the world at risk."