Beijing may hit back over US curbs on Chinese state media

BEIJING • China has threatened to retaliate against new US restrictions on Chinese state media, escalating tensions between the two superpowers as they crack down on each other's news outlets.

The US State Department said on Monday that it was reclassifying four organisations - China Central Television, China News Service, the People's Daily and the Global Times - as foreign missions rather than media outlets in the United States, adding to five others designated in February.

China has already expelled more than a dozen American journalists as part of the row.

Yesterday, Beijing decried the latest US move as "bare-faced political suppression of Chinese media" that "further exposes the hypocrisy of the so-called freedom of speech and press which the US likes to flaunt".

"We strongly urge the US to reject this Cold War mindset and ideological bias... otherwise China will have no choice but to make an appropriate response," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian at a routine briefing.

All nine Chinese state-run news organisations will be required to report details of their US-based staff and real estate transactions to the State Department. Their news reporting will not be restricted, officials said.

"These four entities are not media outlets; they are propaganda outlets," Mr David Stilwell, the top US diplomat for East Asia, told reporters.

He declined to say if the four organisations would be asked to reduce their US-based staff, which was required of the five that were earlier designated.

The announcement was further evidence that a closed-door meeting last week in Hawaii between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and senior Chinese official Yang Jiechi did little to ease bilateral tensions.

The five state news outlets earlier designated as foreign missions were Xinhua news agency, China Global Television Network, China Radio International and the US distributors of the People's Daily and English-language China Daily.

After these outlets were ordered to slash their numbers of Chinese employees in the US, Beijing hit back in March by expelling US citizens working for three major newspapers - The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

CALL TO REJECT COLD WAR MINDSET

We strongly urge the US to reject this Cold War mindset and ideological bias... otherwise China will have no choice but to make an appropriate response.

CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN ZHAO LIJIAN

"This is a very absurd decision," Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin said of the latest US move. "China-US relations are so tense that market-oriented media like the Global Times has been affected. It is regrettable."

The paper is published by the People's Daily, the official newspaper of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2020, with the headline 'Beijing may hit back over US curbs on Chinese state media'. Subscribe