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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is seen in Beijing on December 13, 2019. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that U.S. journalists at three major outlets would have their press credentials cancelled. (Reuters/Jason Lee)

COVID-19 reporting curtailed as China revokes press credentials of US reporters at 3 outlets

March 20, 2020 11:00 AM ET

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The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Tuesday that U.S. citizens working as journalists at The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post whose press credentials expire in 2020 would be required to surrender those credentials within 10 days, effectively forcing them to leave the country. The decision will impact at least 13 U.S. reporters. Chinese authorities will also require the three outlets’ China-based branches, along with Time magazine and the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Voice of America, to produce written reports concerning their staff, financing, operations, and real estate in the country.

The ministry said the move was retaliation for measures taken by the U.S. government earlier in March to limit visas at Chinese state media outlets, following China’s decision in February to expel three Wall Street Journal reporters. That decision came a day after the U.S. reclassified five Chinese state media organizations as “foreign missions.” At the time, CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon wrote that this kind of tit-for-tat retaliation between the U.S. and China would not help fight Chinese propaganda.

CPJ condemned the journalists’ expulsion, which threatens to sharply curtail the reporting operations of major U.S. publications in China. As CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler noted, these measures will “cripple news reporting during a global pandemic.” Earlier this month, Butler delved into the issue in Foreign Policy, writing, "[The U.S. has] been suckered into playing China’s game, and they are just better at it than we are."

Global press freedom updates

  • Venezuelan authorities arrest, threaten journalists reporting on COVID-19
  • Honduran government declares state of emergency, suspends right to free expression
  • Nigeria’s Premium Times faces cyberattacks, intimidation of journalists after publishing leaked documents.
  • Chechen blogger Tumso Abdurakhmanov spoke to CPJ about threats he faces
  • Two journalists and a driver arrested, held without charge in Ethiopia
  • Journalist Slavi Angelov assaulted in Bulgaria
  • Liberian journalists harassed, arrested by security forces
  • Unknown gunmen abduct Iraqi journalist Tawfiq al-Tamimi in Baghdad
  • Pakistan broadcast regulator cuts distribution of Geo News after CEO’s arrest
  • Journalist missing in Bangladesh following defamation suit
  • Liberian journalist Kolubah Bobo Akoi arrested over Facebook posts
  • Myanmar military sues Irrawaddy editor Ye Ni over Rakhine conflict report
  • Journalist Afgan Mukhtarli released from prison in Azerbaijan
  • Ukrainian investigative outlet Slidstvo.Info faces potential investigation for its reporting
  • CPJ calls on Canadian police to allow journalists to freely cover matters of public interest
  • CPJ joins calls on Turkey to lift ad ban on Evrensel daily
  • CPJ demands Pakistan release Jang Media Group CEO Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman

Spotlight

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread around the world, journalists are on the frontlines covering stories and reporting on the latest information to serve their communities. Because the situation is evolving quickly, CPJ’s Emergencies department is regularly updating our Safety Advisory on covering the outbreak.

The advisory includes information on steps to take ahead of, during, and after an assignment, taking a holistic approach with information on physical, digital, and psychosocial safety.

We are continuing to update the page with the latest translations of the advisory, which you can currently find in فارسی ,العربية , Türkçe , മലയാളത്തിൽ, हिंदी में, اردو میں, मराठी मध्ये, Español, Italiano, Portuguȇs, Français, Pусский, and كوردى.

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