Beijing Threatens Retaliation If US Takes Action Against Chinese Reporters

August 4, 2020 Updated: August 4, 2020

The Chinese regime has vowed to retaliate if the U.S. side refuses to extend visas for Chinese journalists, a foreign ministry spokesperson said, describing the act as another “round of political suppression.”

Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters during an Aug. 4 press conference that no Chinese journalists have been granted a visa extension since May, when the United States began limiting their stay to 90 days with the option for renewal.

The Epoch Times has reached out to the U.S. State Department for confirmation, but did not receive a response by press time.

Wang accused the United States of “hypocrisy,” “double standards,” “hegemonic bullying,” and threatened to make “necessary and legitimate reactions,” such as targeting U.S. reporters in Hong Kong.

“I want to tell you that the HKSAR [Hong Kong special administrative region] is part of China’s territory. The Central Government has the diplomatic authority to make reactions in response,” he said.

While Wang did not disclose how many Chinese reporters could be potentially impacted, the editor of the hawkish state-run newspaper Global Times, in a social media post, said the number was around 40, without citing a source.

The two countries have imposed tit-for-tat restrictions on journalists amid mounting U.S. concerns that the Chinese regime was using state media as a megaphone to spread propaganda on U.S. soil.

China Daily, an English-language publication run by China’s Propaganda Department, has paid millions to place advertorial supplements in prominent U.S. newspapers, according to the Department of Justice. In a June 23 survey, the International Federation of Journalists, the world’s largest journalist organization, said Beijing was running an “extensive and sophisticated long-term” media outreach campaign to spread its talking points globally.

The U.S. administration has designated a total of nine Chinese state-controlled outlets as foreign missions to identify them as propaganda organs of the Chinese Communist Party. The move required the agencies to disclose their operations, including registering their personnel and properties with the State Department.

“While Western media are beholden to the truth, PRC [People’s Republic of China] media are beholden to the Chinese Communist Party,” said State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus in a June 22 statement unveiling the last four designations.

In early March, the State Department slashed the number of Chinese journalists allowed to work in the United States from 160 to 100. In retaliation, the Chinese regime expelled U.S. journalists working for five newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Voice of America.

The U.S. actions followed Beijing’s decision in February to revoke the press credentials of three Wall Street Journal reporters, over an opinion article calling China the “real sick man of Asia”—though none of the three expelled journalists were involved in writing the article.

China ranks 177 out of 180 in the World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, an international press freedom watchdog.

The U.S. administration in recent months has also hardened its stance on Beijing on other fronts as diplomatic relations between the two global powers deteriorated.

On July 22, the United States ordered the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas to close. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus told The Epoch Times at the time that the “United States will not tolerate the PRC’s violations of our sovereignty and intimidation of our people, just as we have not tolerated the PRC’s unfair trade practices, theft of American jobs, and other egregious behavior.”

The Chinese regime closed the U.S. consulate in Chengdu city, Sichuan Province in retaliation.

During a July 22 press conference following the decision, President Donald Trump left open the prospect of closing more Chinese missions, saying “it’s always possible” further Chinese diplomatic outposts would be ordered to close.

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