Chinese authorities announced Tuesday, March 17, that U.S. journalists from The Washington Post, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal will be effectively expelled from the country as part of retaliation for Trump administration limits on U.S.-based Chinese state media.
The move widens another rift in U.S.-China relations already strained by trade disputes and questions about how the world's two biggest economies will recalibrate their ties after the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement published Tuesday, China's foreign ministry said the three U.S. outlets, plus Voice of America and Time magazine, will be designated as "foreign missions" and must report information about their staff, finance, operation and real estate in China.
The statement did not mention pulling credentials for Time and VOA, but it was unclear whether China would take further action.
The moves came after the United States took measures in February against Chinese Communist Party-controlled news outlets operating in the United States. Later, China expelled three Wall Street Journal reporters.
"I regret China's decision today to further foreclose the world's ability to conduct free-press operations that frankly would be really good for the Chinese people," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Tuesday. "This is unfortunate. I hope they'll reconsider."
The new rules would reshape foreign journalism in China.
The statement said that U.S. citizens working for The Post, the Times and the Wall Street Journal, whose press credentials are due to expire before the end of 2020, will have four calendar days to hand back their press cards. They will not be able to go to Hong Kong or Macao as a base for work, it said.
That will mean that many journalists will be forced to leave. An initial review by The Post suggests that the Chinese order would apply to one Post correspondent, Gerry Shih, who is a U.S. citizen, said Douglas Jehl, foreign editor at The Post.
"We unequivocally condemn any action by China to expel U.S. reporters," said Martin Baron, executive editor of The Post.
"The Chinese government's decision is particularly regrettable because it comes in the midst of an unprecedented global crisis, when clear and reliable information about the international response to covid-19 is essential," he continued.
"Severely limiting the flow of that information, which China now seeks to do, only aggravates the situation," Baron said.
This article was written by Emily Rauhala, a reporter for The Washington Post.