BEIJING: The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on Wednesday expressed a deep disappointment over China’s decision to expel all US journalists working in Mainland China.
In a statement, IFJ said that the decision will deal a blow to media reporting in the region and harm the public’s right to know at a critical juncture.
Today, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs delineated its retaliation against recent restrictions on Chinese journalists in the US, chief among them, all journalists in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau working for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.
All journalists who are US citizens must now return their press passes within 10 days and cannot continue to work as journalists in the country.
The announcement by the ministry further demands that in “the spirit of reciprocity”, Voice of America, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and Time will be subjected to the same laws governing foreign government missions.
“Specifically the aforementioned media outlets must “declare in written form information about their staff, finance, operation and real estate in China.”
The ministry announcement said that the Chinese government rejects the “ideological bias against China, fake news made in the name of press freedom, and breaches of ethics in journalism”.
Instead, it called on “foreign media outlets and journalists to play a positive role in advancing the mutual understanding between China and the rest of the world”.
The Chinese authority’s decision directly violates Article 5 of the Basic Law of Hong Kong, which states: “The socialist system and policies shall not be practiced in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and the previous capitalist system and way of life shall remain unchanged for 50 years.”
China’s retaliatory moves appear to be a direct countermeasure to the US government’s designation of five Chinese media agencies as government entities, subjecting them to the same rules as foreign missions, which includes a cap of 100 Chinese citizens working at Xinhua, CGTN, China Radio, China Daily, and the People’s Daily in the US.
The IFJ said: “The free flow of information that journalists facilitate is pivotal, particularly in the face of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The IFJ is disappointed at the decline in relations between the US and China that has led to the unnecessary targeting of journalists.”