BEIJING (REUTERS, AFP, BLOOMBERG) – China has revoked the press credentials of three journalists of the Wall Street Journal after the newspaper declined to apologise for a column that called China the “real sick man of Asia”, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday (Feb 19).
Spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily briefing that Beijing made several representations to the paper over the column, which China criticised as racist and denigrating its efforts to combat the coronavirus epidemic, but that the paper had failed to apologise or investigate those responsible.
He said the column had a “racially discriminatory” and “sensational” headline and slammed the WSJ for not issuing an official apology.
“As such, China has decided that from today, the press cards of three Wall Street Journal reporters in Beijing will be revoked,” Mr Geng said.
He did not identify the journalists whose credentials were being revoked. Reuters could not immediately reach the Wall Street Journal for comment.
The action comes after the United States said on Tuesday it would begin treating five major Chinese state-run media entities with US operations, including Xinhua News Agency, China Global Television Network and China Daily Distribution Corp the same as foreign embassies, requiring them to register employees and US properties with the State Department.
Mr Geng told reporters that China opposed the new rules and Beijing reserved the right to respond.
“We urge the US to discard its ideological prejudice and Cold War zero-sum-game mentality, and stop ill-advised measures that undermine bilateral trust and cooperation,” he added.
The US has stepped up its pressure on China’s government as it competes for economic and military influence in the Asia-Pacific region.
Secretary of Defence Mark Esper warned on Saturday that China is moving further outside the international order as the world’s second-largest economy pursues more aggressive economic and military policies at the expense of other nations.
Although Beijing and Washington have reached agreement on a phase one trade deal, the two sides have continued to feud over a broad range of issues.