China announced on Tuesday that it would expel American journalists working for three major news organizations in retaliation for the Trump administration’s tighter restrictions on Chinese journalists working in the U.S. The targeted journalists work for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. China is also demanding that the journalists from those three news organizations, as well as Voice of America and TIME magazine, turn over documents detailing their finances and assets. The country demanded that the journalists “whose press credentials are due to expire before the end of 2020” must “notify the Department of Information of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs within four calendar days starting from today and hand back their press cards within ten calendar days,” The New York Times reported. Just over two weeks ago, the Trump administration restricted the number of journalists who work for Chinese state news outlets to 100, citing “a longstanding, negative trend” of how China treats foreign journalists.
Zhao Lijian, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, said in a statement that the orders “are entirely necessary and reciprocal countermeasures that China is compelled to take in response to the unreasonable oppression the Chinese media organizations experience in the U.S.” He added: “What the U.S. has done is exclusively targeting Chinese media organizations, and hence driven by a Cold War mentality and ideological bias.” Matt Murray, the Journal’s editor-in-chief, said in a statement that the newspaper opposed “government interference with a free press anywhere in the world,” especially during an “unparalleled global crisis.” Times executive editor Dean Baquet said the decision was “especially irresponsible,” as the world needs “impartial reporting about its two largest economies” during the coronavirus pandemic.