China said on Wednesday that it had revoked three Wall Street Journal reporters' press passes because of an editorial heading that was considered racist. The newspaper added that they had been instructed to leave within five days.
The expulsion, one of the toughest measures against foreign media in recent years, came when Beijing also criticized Washington's decision to tighten the rules for Chinese state media organizations in the United States and described the measure as "unreasonable and unacceptable."
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the journal editorial titled "China is the Really Ill Man of Asia" had a "racially discriminatory" and "sensational" headline and struck the newspaper for not issuing an official apology have.
"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 editorial, written by Walter Russell Mead, a professor at Bard College, also criticized the Chinese government's first response to the new outbreak of the corona virus: the Wuhan city government at the virus epicenter was described as "secret and self-serving" while national efforts were ineffective were dismissed.
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 and infected more than 74,000. It has spread to at least two dozen countries around the world.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)