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Beijing rejects publishers' protest

By WANG QINGYUN | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-03-28 10:07
NYPD officers ride horses down a deserted 7th Ave in Times Square during the outbreak of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, US, March 26, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

Beijing has rejected an open letter of protest to the Chinese government from the publishers of three United States news organizations over limits placed on those organizations' operations, saying the US government should have shouldered the blame for the action.

The Foreign Ministry's Information Department said it talked to the heads of the Beijing offices of the three organizations on Friday and lodged solemn representations over the letter.

The publishers of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post protested China's decision this month to "expel" journalists from the three organizations in the letter published on Tuesday.

China's decision was a countermeasure to the US government's virtual expulsion of 60 Chinese reporters, the Foreign Ministry's Information Department said, adding that it does not accept the "arrogance and bias shown in the letter".

In a reply issued on Friday, the department asked whether the three US news organizations had spoken out against Washington's "ever escalating political crackdown" on Chinese reporters who work in the US.

"Have the ... three 'mainstream media' ever spoken out for their Chinese colleagues? Have they openly criticized the US government? Have they urged the US government to reverse its erroneous decisions?" the department said.

On March 18, China announced that it would take countermeasures against US restrictive measures placed on Chinese media organizations.

Part of the countermeasures is that the three US news organizations' journalists whose press credentials are due to expire by the end of 2020 must hand in their press cards, and they are not allowed to continue to work as journalists in China.

The move came two weeks after the US announced it would cap the number of Chinese citizens working in the US offices of five Chinese media outlets, reducing the number from about 160 to 100.

Recalling other restrictive policies such as the US decision in February to designate the five Chinese media outlets as "foreign missions", the department said China will not remain silent in the face of the crackdown and discrimination.

The department also criticized the claim in the open letter that the "expulsion" of the US journalists will damage the free flow of information about the novel coronavirus pneumonia pandemic.

China has briefed the world every day on data about the disease with an open, transparent and responsible manner, the department said. It has regularly informed the World Health Organization and countries including the US, and has taken the most comprehensive, strict and thorough preventive measures, it said.

"The international community will not lack 'probing, accurate, on-the-ground reporting' without some US journalists from you," it said to the publishers.

"Also, some reporters know clearly if they have made really comprehensive, accurate and objective reporting to the world about China's efforts to tackle the disease. Relevant reports speak for themselves," it said.

Regarding the publishers' request to the Chinese government "to ease the growing crackdown on independent news organizations", the department said China has always welcomed reporters from all countries to report in China according to law, and reiterated China's opposition to ideological bias against the country.

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