China to retaliate US restrictions on Chinese journalists
Iran Press TV
Tuesday, 03 March 2020 10:53 AM
China has condemned as "bullying" the recent restrictions imposed by the United States on Chinese media in the country, pledging to take countermeasures.
Speaking at a regular press briefing on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian slammed Washington for using "groundless reasons to politically oppress Chinese media organizations based in the US."
Washington announced on Monday that the number of Chinese nationals permitted to work for five Chinese media outlets in the US – including Xinhua News Agency – would be limited to 100 as of March 13, down from the current 160.
The US said the decision was made in response to what it alleged to be Beijing's "long-standing intimidation and harassment of journalists."
Zhao told reporters that the US restrictions effectively meant the expulsion of Chinese journalists from the US.
The move exposes "the hypocrisy of the United States' so-called freedom of the press as blatant double standard and hegemonic bullying."
"China reserves the right to make a response and implement measures," Zhao added. "It was the US who broke the rules of the game first, China can only follow suit."
Another Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, used a more strident language, writing on Twitter, "Now the US has kicked off the game, let's play."
The US move came two weeks after China expelled three Wall Street Journal reporters. But, senior State Department officials, who asked not to be named, told reporters the Monday decision was "not linked to any one particular incident."
On February 19, China canceled the visas of three journalists working for The Wall Street Journal after the newspaper declined to apologize for a "racist" headline for an opinion column about the coronavirus epidemic that read "China is the Real Sick Man of Asia."
US State Department officials said Washington might take further action if China adopted countermeasures.
"If in fact they decide to take this in a further negative direction however of course...all options would be on the table. I can't tell you what in particular we would do, but we'd sit down, review the circumstances, and then consider all of our options," an unnamed official said.
According to Trump administration officials, Washington would also declare in the near future limits on the Chinese reporters' duration of stay.
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