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Iran Press TV

China to expel US journalists in tit-for-tat move

Iran Press TV

Wednesday, 18 March 2020 8:57 AM

The Chinese government has announced plans to expel China-based American journalists with three major US newspapers in a tit-for-tat move after Washington's decision earlier this month to limit the number of Chinese journalists in the US.

Beijing declared on Wednesday that all US nationals with press credentials expiring this year who work with The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post would have to hand back their press credentials within ten days and would no more be allowed to work in mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau.

It was not immediately clear how many US reporters would be affected.

The government also said that the China branches of the three dailies, in addition to the US broadcaster Voice of America (VOA) and Time magazine, must "declare in written form information about their staff, finance, operation, and real estate in China."

The announcement drew strong reaction from the executives of the affected US newspapers and the hawkish US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who claimed at a Washington press conference that Beijing's decision would "further foreclose the world's ability to conduct the free press operations" that were "really good for the Chinese people."

The Chinese Foreign Ministry, however, said on Wednesday that China had been "compelled" to take the measures in response to "the unreasonable oppression the Chinese media organizations experience in the United States."

The US had in early March imposed restrictions on Chinese journalists in the US. The Chinese Foreign Ministry had described those restrictions as "bullying" and pledged to respond in kind.

The US claimed at the time that its decision had been in response to what it called Beijing's "long-standing intimidation and harassment of journalists."

That came shortly after China expelled three Wall Street Journal correspondents in late February for publishing an opinion column that referred to China as the "real sick man of Asia."

Beijing denounced the daily's column as racist and, after the newspaper declined to apologize, revoked the visas of the three reporters in China.

China defends decision

Some Western media outlets have claimed that China's expulsion of the US journalists from all its territories appears contradictory to Hong Kong's autonomy under the so-called "one country, two systems" agreement that stands between the territory and the mainland.

Later on Wednesday, Beijing defended the decision by saying that the measure conformed with its purview over diplomatic affairs.

According the Hong Kong's Basic Law — as the semiautonomous region's mini-constitution is known — China's central government is ultimately in charge of foreign affairs and defense in the former British colony.

"The US has said that all options are on the table. Today, I can also tell the US that all options are on the table for China [too]," Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.

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