Authorities in Beijing have forced at least seven Chinese nationals to stop working for US news outlets in the city, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the latest development in an ongoing dispute between the US and China over media access.
Members of the New York Times, Voice of America and two other outlets were dismissed from their jobs on Thursday and Friday, the group said, identifying only the newspaper and the US Congress-funded broadcaster.
China on Tuesday expelled more than a dozen American journalists working for the Times, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and the Washington Post in response to a cap being placed on how many Chinese journalists are allowed to be stationed in the US.
The tit-for-tat exemplifies how fraught US-China ties have become despite the signing of a phase-one trade deal in January and calls for more global cooperation to contain COVID-19.
In addition to media, the countries have also feuded over the use of “Chinese virus” by US officials to describe the outbreak and an assertion by a Chinese official that the US military spread the virus.
Foreign news outlets in China are barred from directly employing Chinese nationals.
They are instead employed through the Beijing Personnel Service Corp for Diplomatic Missions, which is affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
It was this agency that dismissed members of US media in the past few days, the Washington-based committee said.
When asked on Thursday at the ministry’s daily press briefing if the local employees of US outlets had been told their work credentials were being revoked, spokesman Geng Shuang (耿爽) said relevant authorities manage the employees of foreign media in accordance with laws and regulations.
The ministry on Tuesday also ordered the Times, the WSJ, the Post, Voice of America and Time magazine to submit written declarations about their staff, operations, finances and real estate in China.
That was in retaliation for the US last month ordering five Chinese state-owned media to be classified as “foreign missions.”
In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for Voice of America confirmed the committee’s statement while declining further comment.
A spokesperson for the Post referred to an earlier statement by executive editor Martin Baron condemning the expulsion of reporters.
Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal, in a statement provided by a spokesperson, said the outlet opposed the expulsion and intimidation of journalists.
A WSJ spokesperson declined to comment while the Times did not immediately respond to queries.
A spokesperson for Bloomberg, which has news bureaus in Beijing and Shanghai, also declined to comment.
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