The U.S.’s biggest newspapers have slammed Beijing for ordering their American journalists to leave China.
Reporters covering China for The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal were informed of the decision earlier today. They were told to hand in their press cards within 10 days if their credentials ended this year, which most do as the country tends to only give one-year visas to foreign reporters.
In addition to the expulsion, Beijing demanded information from the outlets, as well as Time Magazine and the Voice of America, about their operations, according to the Times.
The expulsions appeared to be in response to the Trump administration ruling weeks earlier that no more than 100 Chinese citizens could work for five state-run Chinese media outlets in the U.S., the Times added.
“They will not be allowed to continue working as journalists in the People’s Republic of China, including its Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions,” the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
It further explained these are “entirely necessary and reciprocal countermeasures that China is compelled to take in response to the unreasonable oppression the Chinese media organizations experience in the U.S.”
The expulsion of the U.S. journalists was widely condemned by the newspapers’ editors, who expressed deep concern that reporters won’t be able to access vital information as the coronavirus, which began in China, spreads around the world.
In a statement, Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times, argued that such a move is “especially irresponsible at a time when the world needs the free and open flow of credible information about the coronavirus pandemic.”
“It is critical that the governments of the United States and China move quickly to resolve this dispute and allow journalists to do the important work of informing the public,” he said. “The health and safety of people around the world depend on impartial reporting about its two largest economies, both of them now battling a common epidemic.”
Marty Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post, added that the decision is “particularly regrettable because it comes in the midst of an unprecedented global crisis, when clear and reliable information about the international response to COVID-19 is essential.”
“Severely limiting the flow of that information, which China now seeks to do, only aggravates the situation,” he said.
Matt Murray, editor in chief of the Wall Street Journal, was in agreement, stating that “trusted news reporting from and about China has never been more important.”
The U.S. government was also not happy. At a press conference, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said: “I regret China’s decision today to further foreclose the world’s ability to conduct the free press operations that, frankly, would be really good for the Chinese people in these incredibly challenging global times, where more information, more transparency are what will save lives.”