SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - China vowed on Tuesday (Aug 4) to retaliate if the United States persisted with "hostile action" against Chinese journalists who may be forced to leave in coming days if their US visas are not extended.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters at a daily briefing that no Chinese journalist in the United States had been granted a visa extension since the United States, on May 11, limited their stay to 90 days, with an option to extend.
"The US has been escalating its actions against Chinese journalists," Wang told reporters. "The US should immediately correct its mistake and stop its actions."
"If the U.S. persists, China will take a necessary and legitimate response to safeguard its rights," he said.
Wang did not say how many Chinese journalists were affected or what retaliation China might consider, but the editor of China's Global Times newspaper said earlier US journalists based in Hong Kong would be among those targeted should Chinese journalists be forced to leave the United States.
"Chinese side has prepared for the worst scenario that all Chinese journalists have to leave," Hu said on Twitter. "If that's the case, Chinese side will retaliate, including targeting US journalists based in HK."
The Global Times newspaper is published by the People's Daily, the official newspaper of China's ruling Communist Party.
The two countries have already exchanged several tit-for-tat actions involving journalists in recent months, with the US designating multiple Chinese state or Communist Party-backed media as foreign embassies.
China has also expelled US journalists for three US newspapers - New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post - this year and has threatened to match any further actions by the US against Chinese journalists.