Amer­i­can re­porters ex­pelled by China

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - WEATHER - By Ken Morit­sugu

BEI­JING >> China an­nounced that it will re­voke the me­dia cre­den­tials of all Amer­i­can jour­nal­ists at three ma­jor U.S. news or­ga­ni­za­tions, in ef­fect ex­pelling them from the coun­try, in re­sponse to new U.S. re­stric­tions on Chi­nese state-con­trolled me­dia.

The for­eign min­istry said early Wed­nes­day that Amer­i­can ci­ti­zens work­ing for The New York Times, The Wall Street Jour­nal and The Wash­ing­ton Post with cre­den­tials ex­pir­ing be­fore the end of the year must sur­ren­der their press cards within 10 days.

It is the lat­est in a se­ries of tit-for-tat ac­tions by the two gov­ern­ments as the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion takes a more con­fronta­tional stance in deal­ing with China than his pre­de­ces­sors. The two coun­tries re­mained en­meshed in a trade war de­spite a re­cent truce and have traded an­gry words over the coron­avirus pan­demic that emerged in China and has spread world­wide.

The move comes af­ter the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion des­ig­nated five Chi­nese me­dia out­lets as for­eign mis­sions and re­stricted the num­ber of Chi­nese who could work for them in a de facto ex­pul­sion of about one-third of their Chi­nese staff.

China de­scribed its steps as “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 Amer­i­can jour­nal­ists will likely have to leave China be­cause their visas are tied to their press cre­den­tials. They won’t be al­lowed to work in not only main­land

China but also the semi­au­tonomous ter­ri­to­ries of Hong Kong and Ma­cao, the for­eign min­istry said in a re­lease posted af­ter mid­night on its web­site.

U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo dis­puted the com­par­i­son be­tween the U.S. and Chi­nese ac­tions, telling re­porters in Wash­ing­ton that they en­joy press free­doms that don’t ex­ist in China.

“The in­di­vid­u­als that we iden­ti­fied a few weeks back were not me­dia that were act­ing here freely,” he said. “They were part of Chi­nese pro­pa­ganda out­lets. We’ve iden­ti­fied these as for­eign mis­sions un­der Amer­i­can law. These aren’t ap­ples to ap­ples, and I re­gret China’s de­ci­sion to­day to fur­ther fore­close the world’s abil­ity to con­duct free press op­er­a­tions.”

Ed­i­tors of all three news or­ga­ni­za­tions con­demned the ac­tion.

“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,” said Marty Baron, ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tor of The Wash­ing­ton Post. “Se­verely lim­it­ing the flow of that in­for­ma­tion, which China now seeks to do, only ag­gra­vates the sit­u­a­tion.”

Dean Ba­quet, ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tor of The New York Times, called it a “grave mis­take” for China to cut it­self off from some of the world’s top news or­ga­ni­za­tions and called on the Chi­nese and Amer­i­can gov­ern­ments to move quickly to re­solve the dis­pute.

“The health and safety of peo­ple around the world de­pend on im­par­tial re­port­ing about its two largest economies, both of them now bat­tling a com­mon epi­demic,” Ba­quet said.

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