China is withdrawing the press cards of all journalists from three major American newspapers. These include employees of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. The newspapers speak of an unprecedented attack on freedom of the press.
US reporters must return their press cards within ten days. Since their visas are linked to the press cards, they will most likely also have to leave the country. They are also no longer allowed to work from the semi-autonomous cities of Hong Kong and Macau.
China is responding to the US decision earlier this month to withdraw the work permits of dozens of Chinese journalists. The number of licenses for five Chinese state media has been reduced from 160 to 100. The Chinese government calls this an unreasonable repression for the Chinese journalists, who could not go unanswered.
According to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the Chinese and US measures cannot be compared.
“The Chinese journalists were part of the Chinese propaganda. We see this as foreign missions that undermine US law.”
The affected American newspapers also condemn the Chinese measure. The Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Matt Murray calls it an unprecedented attack on press freedom in times of crisis.
His colleague at The New York Times Dean Baquet speaks of a big mistake, especially in the middle of the worldwide coronavirus outbreak.
“The health and safety of the world’s population depends on unbiased reporting of the two largest economies, both of which are now fighting the same epidemic.”
Last month, China decided to deport three correspondents from The Wall Street Journal as punishment for an opinion piece about the corona virus. Beijing called that article racist.