China bans US nationals working for NYT, WSJ and Washington Post

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he regretted China's decision to rescind the press credentials of more US journalists and hoped Beijing would "reconsider".
Journalists wearing protective face masks wait for a press conference by Mao Shengyong, a spokesman for China's National Bureau of Statistics, in Beijing, China, March 16, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING - China on Wednesday (March 18) announced the effective expulsion of American journalists working for three United States media outlets, in retaliation against Washington's controls on Chinese journalists.

In a statement put up shortly after midnight, China's foreign ministry said journalists at the New York Times (NYT), Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and Washington Post (WaPo) whose press credentials expire in 2020 will have 10 days to surrender their press cards. They will no longer be allowed to work in mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau.

The NYT, WSJ, WaPo, Voice of America and Time magazine will also have to declare information about their "staff, finance, operation and real estate" in China.

The foreign ministry said this was in response to Washington cutting the number of Chinese nationals allowed to work for state-run media outlets in the US and the re-designation of these outlets as "foreign missions".

"The above-mentioned measures are entirely necessary and reciprocal countermeasures that China is compelled to take in response to the unreasonable oppression the Chinese media organisations experience in the US," the statement said.

"They are legitimate and justified self-defence in every sense."

Earlier this month, the US said five media outlets - state news agency Xinhua, broadcaster China Global Television Network, China Daily, China Radio International and People's Daily - were considered foreign missions, and staff would be subject to the same rules as diplomats based in the country.

From last Friday, the outlets would also be allowed to employ a maximum of 100 Chinese nationals, down from 160.

While the US was not explicitly expelling the other 60 staff members - they can technically seek other employment - most are expected to have to leave the country.

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China last month threw out three reporters from the WSJ - two US nationals and an Australian - its harshest move against international media in years.

Press credentials in China are generally valid for a year and have to be renewed annually. Previously, journalists were forced to leave after their visas were not renewed.

Beijing said this was because the newspaper did not apologise for a "racially discriminatory" headline that appeared on an op-ed column about the country's fight against the coronavirus.

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