China revokes three press cards of three US journalists

Reuters Beijing, Beijing, China Feb 19, 2020, 05.11 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

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Foreigners are not allowed to work as journalists in China without official credentials, which are required to obtain a residence visa.

China has revoked the press credentials of three journalists of the Wall Street Journal after the newspaper declined to apologise for a column with a headline calling China the "real sick man of Asia", the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

Spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing made "stern representations" to the paper over the February 3 column, which China criticised as racist and denigrating its efforts to combat a coronavirus epidemic, but the paper had failed to apologise or investigate those responsible.

"The Chinese people do not welcome media that publish racist statements and maliciously attack China," Geng told a daily briefing. "In light of this, China has decided to revoke the press cards of the three Wall Street Journal correspondents in Beijing, starting today."

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He did not identify the journalists. The Wall Street Journal said its deputy bureau chief, Josh Chin, and reporters Chao Deng and Philip Wen, had been ordered to leave within five days. Chin and Deng are US citizens and Wen is Australian.

In a statement, the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China expressed "deep concern and strong condemnation" over the move.

"The action taken against the Journal correspondents is an extreme and obvious attempt by the Chinese authorities to intimidate foreign news organizations by taking retribution against their China-based correspondents," it said.

China's step comes after the United States said on Tuesday it would begin treating five Chinese state-run media entities with US operations the same as foreign embassies.

Among these are the Xinhua news agency, China Global Television Network and China Daily Distribution Corp, which will be required to register employees and US properties with the State Department.

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Geng said China opposed the new rules and Beijing reserved the right to respond. China declined to renew credentials of another Wall Street Journal reporter last year.

The June 30 report said Australian authorities were looking into the activities of one of President Xi Jinping's cousins as part of investigations into organised crime, money laundering and alleged Chinese influence-peddling.

Foreigners are not allowed to work as journalists in China without official credentials, which are required to obtain a residence visa.