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China expels American journalists in tit-for-tat response

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PHOTO: China's foreign ministry showing American journalists the door - Forbes.com

The Chinese government is revoking the press credentials of US journalists working for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. It’s the biggest crackdown on American journalists in the past two decades.

The move comes as the two superpowers feud over the narrative on the Covid-19 virus and both try to politicise the issue.

US President Donald Trump has provocatively branded the outbreak as “the Chinese virus”. Meanwhile senior Chinese officials have been posting unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about alleged US involvement in the origins of the virus.

The Chinese government claim the expulsions are a tit-for-tat retaliation for the US’s decision to cut the number of Chinese nationals allowed to work for state-run media in American. Last month the US imposed restrictions after Beijing revoked press credentials for three WSJ reporters in response to an editorial that described China as “the real sick man of Asia,” sparking outrage in China as officials called the piece “racially discriminatory.”

The Chinese government has also ordered Voice of America, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and Time.com to provide details about all staff, local finance sources, daily operations and property ownership in China – a response to similar rules recently imposed on Chinese state media operating in the US.

The Chinese foreign ministry has informed the journalists that they “must notify the Ministry within four days, from today, and hand back their media accreditation cards within 10 days”.

“They will not be allowed to continue working as journalists in the People’s Republic of China, including its Hong Kong and Macao.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blasted the Chinese government, saying they were “wrong to equate state-run media, which answer to Beijing, and independent US news outlets that can freely report and ask critical questions.”

“I regret China’s decision today to further foreclose the world’s ability to conduct the free press operations that, frankly, would be really good for the Chinese people in these incredibly challenging global times, where more information, more transparency are what will save lives,” Pompeo is quoted by AFP.

The row is driving another wedge between US and Chinese officials as the ink dries over protracted trade negotiations, following a two year trade war initiated by US President Trump.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has been inflaming the situation by referring to the “Chinese virus” and “Wuhan virus”, referring to the suspected origins of the Covid-19 virus.

“It did come from China, so I think it’s very accurate,” said President Trump, defending he terminology.

SOURCE: AFP | Forbes

 

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