China ordered three reporters from the American Wall Street Journal to leave the country on Wednesday, which Beijing saw as a racist headline. This was one of the toughest steps against foreign media in years.
The expulsion occurred when Beijing also criticized Washington's decision to tighten the rules for Chinese state media organizations in the United States and described the move as "unreasonable and unacceptable."
It is unreasonable and unacceptable that the #US disrupt and hinder the normal operation of Chinese media organizations in America. We urge the US not to undermine mutual trust and cooperation, and we reserve the right to provide further answers. @ StateDept
– Spokesman 发言人 办公室 (@MFA_China) February 19, 2020
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the journal titled "China is the Really Sick Man of Asia" had a "racially discriminatory" and "sensational" headline and struck the newspaper because it had not issued an official apology.
"For this reason, China has decided to revoke the press passes of three Wall Street Journal reporters in Beijing as of today," Geng said in a press conference.
The journal reported that deputy office manager Josh Chin and reporter Chao Deng, both US citizens, and reporter Philip Wen, an Australian, had been instructed to leave the country within five days.
The three journalists are in the Wall Street Journal news area, which is not linked to the editorial and opinion area.
The comment, written by Walter Russell Mead, a professor at Bard College, criticized the Chinese government's first response to the new outbreak of the corona virus – calling Wuhan's city government in the virus epicenter "secret and self-serving" and rejecting national efforts as ineffective ,
The term "sick man of Asia" originally referred to China in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when it was exploited by foreign powers in what was sometimes referred to as the "century of humiliation" for the country.
The February 3 play "slandered the efforts of the Chinese government and people to fight the epidemic," Geng said.
The new coronavirus epidemic has killed over 2,000 people in China, infected more than 74,000, and spread to at least two dozen countries.
"The editors of the Wall Street Journal have nailed themselves to the pillar of shame," the nationalist Global Times wrote in a comment Tuesday before the reporters were expelled.
The WSJ's statements "sound like joy and disgust the Chinese," it said.
The expulsions come a day after the United States angered China for classifying five government media, including Xinhua News Agency and the China Global Television Network, as foreign missions. State Department officials said they were part of Beijing's growing "propaganda" apparatus.
Geng expressed China's "strong discontent" and added cryptically: "We reserve the right to continue to respond to this matter."
China's attempt to revoke the references of the three WSJ journalists marks a drastic escalation in the country's intensifying media landscape, in which several foreign reporters have been effectively expelled in the past five years.
The Foreign Correspondents & # 39; Club of China said the revocation of three correspondents' press passes was an unprecedented form of retaliation. The country has not shown any foreign correspondents since 1998.
"The measures taken against the journal's correspondents are an extreme and obvious attempt by the Chinese authorities to intimidate foreign news organizations by retaliatory measures against their China-based correspondents," the FCCC said in a statement.
Nine journalists have either been expelled since 2013 or have been expelled effectively by not renewing visas, he added.
In August, China refused to renew WSJ journalist Chun Han Wong's press badges after he and Wen wrote an article about a cousin of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
In 2018, Megha Rajagopalan, head of the Beijing BuzzFeed News office, was effectively expelled from China after she was unable to extend her visa.
Before she was evicted, she had reported extensively from the northwestern region of Xinjiang, where China has rounded up an estimated one million Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities in internment camps.
French reporter Ursula Gauthier also had to leave the country at the end of 2015 after criticizing government policies in Xinjiang and the authorities refusing to renew their ID cards.
The three designated journal reporters also reported about Xinjiang and reported about forced labor, surveillance, and re-education camps.
A 2019 FCCC poll of 109 foreign journalists found that many workers in China face visa delays or short-stay visas that they believed were related to their reporting.
The FCCC said at the time that the poll "has recently painted the darkest picture of reporting conditions in China."
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)