بازدید 207546

As China-US relations continue to sour, Beijing says expulsion of American reporters may just be the start

China has warned of more tit-for-tat retribution against the United States, just hours after it moved to expel US journalists
کد خبر: ۹۶۶۷۳۰
تاریخ انتشار: ۲۸ اسفند ۱۳۹۸ - ۱۹:۲۷ 18 March 2020

China has warned of more tit-for-tat retribution against the United States, just hours after it moved to expel US journalists
at three publications as the deeply fraught relations between the world’s top two economies took another ugly turn.

In the largest expulsion of foreign reporters since the normalisation of bilateral ties 40 years ago, China’s foreign ministry said in a statement early on Wednesday morning that it would revoke the press credentials of Americans working for three newspapers, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
The move, which came in the midst of Beijing’s acrimonious feud with the administration of US President Donald Trump
over the coronavirus pandemic
, marked a major escalation of tensions between the two superpowers, which have already locked horns in a retaliatory cycle of rancorous economic disengagement and geopolitical rivalry, according to observers.
At a briefing on Wednesday, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang described the expulsions as “entirely necessary and reciprocal countermeasures” in response to the “unreasonable oppression” Washington had imposed on China’s state-owned media outlets in the US.

“If the US continues on the wrong track, China will be forced to take further countermeasures,” he said. “The US side said before that all options are on the table. All I can say here is that all options are also on the table for China.”

His remarks came hours after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he regretted China’s decision and that he hoped Beijing would reconsider.
Last month, China expelled three Wall Street Journal reporters from its Beijing bureau, right after the US Department of State designated five Chinese state-controlled media outlets as official government entities under the Foreign Missions Act.

Washington responded earlier this month by imposing a cap on the number of Chinese employees allowed at the five largest Chinese state media in the US, effectively forcing out about 60 people.

The foreign ministry said in its Wednesday statement that those US reporters whose accreditations were due to expire at the end of this year were required to return their credentials within 10 days. In an unprecedented step, it said they would also be barred from working as journalists in Hong Kong and Macau.

In the past, foreign journalists banished from mainland China have been allowed to work in Hong Kong.
Geng said that the foreign affairs of Hong Kong and Macau were handled by Beijing, though he added that any US journalists already working in the two special administrative regions (SARs) would not be affected.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said it deplored Beijing’s move, which was expected to affect at least 13 journalists at the three newspapers. About 100 accredited reporters from three dozen US media organisations are based in China, mostly in Beijing.

China had previously expelled nine foreign journalists since 2013, while others had been denied visas, it said.
Geng said that the foreign affairs of Hong Kong and Macau were handled by Beijing, though he added that any US journalists already working in the two special administrative regions (SARs) would not be affected.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said it deplored Beijing’s move, which was expected to affect at least 13 journalists at the three newspapers. About 100 accredited reporters from three dozen US media organisations are based in China, mostly in Beijing.

China had previously expelled nine foreign journalists since 2013, while others had been denied visas, it said.
However, soon after the FCC’s statement was issued, the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Commissioner Office in Hong Kong issued a rebuttal saying it was “confounding right with wrong”.

“It is not China that started all this in the first place,” it said. “The FCC should address its complaints to the US administration, urging the latter to immediately change course, undo the damage, and stop its political oppression of and arbitrary restrictions on Chinese media organisations”.

Edward Yau Tang-wah, Hong Kong’s commerce and economic development secretary, did not make clear if the city would follow Beijing in preventing the US journalists from working, but said the matter would be handled in accordance with the “one country, two systems” principle.

Tian Feilong, a law professor at Beihang University in Beijing, said the journalists had not been barred from travelling to Hong Kong as tourists.

“If they try to enter the city, the government could either choose to allow them in on the condition they do not work, or simply refuse them entry,” he said. “Border control is part of the SAR government’s executive power.”
Dean Baquet, The New York Times’ executive editor, described Beijing’s expulsion of the reporters as a “grave mistake” as his newspaper had been reporting on China since the 1850s.

Marty Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post, said China’s decision was “particularly regrettable” at a time of an unprecedented global crisis.

Beijing also said that the China branches of the three newspapers, as well as those of broadcaster Voice of America and Time magazine must “declare in written form information about their staff, finance, operation and real estate in China”.

Observers said that the tit-for-tat approach adopted by both Washington and Beijing was only likely to accelerate their decoupling after they had clashed on everything from trade to Huawei, Hong Kong to the South China Sea.
Shi Yinhong from the school of international studies at Renmin University in Beijing says the divisions between China and the US on politics and ideology are deepening. Photo: Handout
Shi Yinhong, an international relations professor at Renmin University of China, said the latest spat would further complicate relations between the two nations.

“The divisions between China and the US on politics and ideology are deepening, and the trend will only get more serious,” he said.

Gu Su, a political scientist at Nanjing University, said the scale of the journalists’ expulsion was unprecedented since China embarked on its programme of reform and opening up in the late 1970s.

“The media is an important channel for cultural and political exchanges, and by directly targeting media outlets and journalists, it sends out a signal that some important changes are occurring in bilateral ties, inching closer to a new Cold War,” he said.
Jude Blanchette, who holds the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said the move “shows that the US and China are firmly locked in a tit-for-tat battle on the landscape of the media and the press”.

“The US-China relationship was already deteriorating significantly. China’s move won’t alter the course but will just accelerate it,” he said.

But An Gang, a former diplomat and researcher at the Centre for International Strategy and Security at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said the expulsion of the American journalists was a “calculated move”.

“Although it looks set to fuel tensions between the two countries amid growing antagonism and hostility, we should note that Beijing has tried hard to avoid the spillover effect of its decision,” he said.

Although Beijing said the five media companies had to release information about their staff, finances and operations in China, it fell short of labelling them “foreign missions”, An said.

“While it’s true that their relations have become increasingly competitive, it may not be realistic to neglect the fact that diplomacy still has a role to play, as exchanges and communications are still under way.”

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