Journalists from three news outlets expelled . . .
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced Tuesday that it will expel journalists working for three American news outlets: the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. The decision requires American journalists whose press credentials were due to expire by the end of 2020 to hand in their press cards within 10 days. The announcement also added that they “will not be allowed to continue working as journalists in the People’s Republic of China, including its Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions.” The Ministry said that the move was in response to U.S. restrictions on Chinese media agencies in the States.
Tit-for-Tat diplomacy . . .
The diplomatic row between the U.S. and China continues to escalate as the two countries engage in a tit-for-tat over their respective media presence. Last month, Beijing expelled three reporters from The Wall Street Journal for a column titled, “The Real Sick Man of Asia.” Short of attributing its response to the expulsion, the Trump administration restricted the number of Chinese employees allowed to work for Chinese state media outlets in the U.S. As a result, the number of Chinese journalists working for Xinhua News Agency, China Global Television Network, China Radio International, and China Daily Distribution Corp in the U.S. has dropped from 160 to 100. Both countries have accused the other of limiting press freedom.
Chinese disinformation campaign . . .
One of the U.S.’s core complaints is a Chinese disinformation campaign, particularly amid the COVID-19 outbreak. A recent tweet by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian raised eyebrows by implying that the U.S. army had brought COVID-19 to Wuhan, a conspiracy theory that has been gaining increasing traction in China. While there is little evidence to support Zhao’s claim, his tweet is likely an attempt to deflect blame around China’s missteps in the early weeks of the pandemic.