China said Tuesday it will expel reporters from three major American newspapers in retaliation for the U.S. slashing the staff size of Chinese media outlets, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Reporters for The New York Times, the Journal and The Washington Post, whose press credentials expire in 2020, will have 10 days to surrender their press cards. They will no longer be allowed to work in mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau.
The government statement referred to the U.S. slashing the staff size of Chinese media outlets in the U.S., "which is expulsion in all but name."
In addition, Voice of America, the Times, the Journal, the Post and Time Magazine must provide information about "their staff, finance, operation and real estate in China." This was in response to the U.S. designation of five Chinese media agencies as "foreign missions" the statement said.
"In response to the discriminatory restrictions the U.S. has imposed on Chinese journalists with regard to visa, administrative review and reporting, China will take reciprocal measures against American journalists," China's Ministry of Affairs said in a statement.
In February, the U.S. State Department told China that five news agencies — Xinhua, CGTN, China Radio, China Daily and The People’s Daily — would be officially treated as foreign government functionaries, subject to similar rules as diplomats stationed in the United States. Administration officials charged the reporters at these agencies were really government operatives.
The State Department also announced that it would limit to 100 the number of Chinese citizens working for the five state-controlled Chinese news organizations.
China demanded that the Journal apologize for a Feb. 3 opinion article headlined “China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia,” which criticized the Chinese government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. A short time later, China said it would expel three of the Journal's staff members.
“The Chinese government’s 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,” Martin Baron, the executive editor of The Washington Post said in a statement. “Severely limiting the flow of that information, which China now seeks to do, only aggravates the situation.”