China banned all American nationals working in the country for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, as part of an escalating media war with the United States that follows restrictions placed by the Trump administration on Chinese media companies operating in the U.S., its foreign ministry announced Tuesday.
“The U.S. government has placed unwarranted restrictions on Chinese media agencies and personnel in the U.S., purposely made things difficult for their normal reporting assignments, and subjected them to growing discrimination and politically-motivated oppression,” the ministry said in a statement, published in English.
China instructed U.S. journalists whose press credentials are due to expire before the end of 2020 to notify the foreign ministry in Beijing within four calendar days, beginning on Tuesday. It asked them to hand over their press cards within ten days.
In early March, the Trump administration ordered several Chinese media organizations to dismiss dozens of U.S.-based Chinese nationals as part of what U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described as “our goal” of “reciprocity.” Pompeo said that the move was part of “long-overdue” efforts by Washington to achieve a “level playing field” following years of harassment by China of American and western journalists.
Reacting to Tuesday’s announcement Pompeo said that China’s actions were misguided and served only to highlight the lack of press freedoms inside China.
“The Chinese will tell you that they want … people to know more about the country, and yet they continue to take actions like the one you see today, where they deny the world the capacity to know what’s really going on inside of their country,” he said.