Published On: Wed, Feb 19th, 2020

‘Unreasonable & unacceptable’: Beijing slams Washington for press freedom hypocrisy after Chinese media branded ‘foreign missions’

China has denounced Washington for advocating freedom of the press while obstructing media, after it tightened control over Beijing-run outlets operating in the US by equating them to diplomatic missions.

Washington’s move against Chinese state media are “unreasonable and unacceptable,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told reporters on Wednesday.

The United States has always advertised freedom of the press, but it interferes with and obstructs the normal operation of Chinese media in the United States.

Geng stated that Beijing reserves “the right to respond further to this matter.”

The US Department of State earlier designated five Chinese English-language news agencies – Xinhua, CGTN, China Radio, China Daily and the People’s Daily – as “foreign missions.” This means that the outlets now have to seek US government’s approval to acquire office space and register personnel changes, just like diplomatic missions do.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Axios that the measure was “long overdue,” accusing the Chinese media of being Beijing’s “mouthpieces” and “becoming more aggressive.”

Also on Wednesday, China revoked press passes for three Wall Street Journal correspondents working in Beijing over an article it branded “racist.” WSJ’s deputy bureau chief Josh Chin along with reporters Chao Deng and Philip Wen were all given five days to leave the country.

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Geng explained that the journalists were expelled after the WSJ failed to apologize for publishing an op-ed with the “sensationalist” headline “China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia” on February 3. The headline reflects a “racist stigma” about the Chinese, Geng said.

“The Chinese people do not welcome media outlets that publish racist statements and conduct malicious smear campaigns against China,” he stated.

In the op-ed in question, Walter Russel Mead, an expert at the Washington-based Hudson Institute, called Beijing’s response to the deadly novel coronavirus outbreak “less than impressive” and suggested that “the mighty Chinese juggernaut has been humbled” by the disease.

Chinese state media has been pointing out that a number of international outlets have run “racist” and “Sinophobic” headlines while covering the coronavirus. Both Chinese and Western media, meanwhile, reported that the anxiety and panic over the disease has sparked racist attacks against Chinese people and other Asians.

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