China's UN ambassador Zhang Jun says inappropriate for US to interfere with work of Chinese journalists

In a photo taken on Dec 5, 2019, Chinese ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun takes part in a luncheon with the UN Security Council permanent representatives and US President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, DC. PHOTO: AFP

UNITED NATIONS (REUTERS) - The United States should not interfere with the work of Chinese journalists, the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, said on Monday (March 2).

"We have some differences but we do not think it is appropriate for the United States to take steps in interfering with the work of journalists coming from China," Zhang told a news conference to mark China's presidency of the UN Security Council in March.

Washington said on Monday it was slashing the number of Chinese employees permitted to work in the US offices of major Chinese state-owned media outlets after China revoked the visas of three Wall Street Journal reporters over a column with a headline calling China the "real sick man of Asia".

Separately, Zhang also said that while the coronavirus outbreak has had a "negative impact" on the country's economy, Beijing was working to revitalise it and was confident it would reach its economic goals for 2020.

"Definitely the epidemic, the coronavirus, has caused a negative impact on the Chinese economy," Zhang said.

"But meanwhile because of the strong resilience, because of the enormous domestic consumption and the domestic market and because of the solid foundation of the Chinese economy, we are very much confident that we are able to realize the goals we have set for this year, the economic goals, the social goals," Zhang said.

Despite that optimism, China faces a big challenge in getting its economy back on track after the prolonged shutdown caused by the outbreak.

Economists estimate the extreme measures taken by the Chinese government to contain the outbreak mean growth slowed substantially, and may have even contracted in the first quarter.

"We do have confidence about the future of the Chinese economy," Zhang said.

The virus broke out in China's Wuhan city late last year and has since infected more than 86,500 people, mostly in China.

Outside China, meanwhile, more than 60 countries now have cases, with more than 8,700 infected and more than 100 deaths.

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