Beijing announced on March 18th that it would expel US citizens working in China for The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal and forbid them from reporting in Hong Kong and Macau. The Chinese authorities also required that these media outlets, as well as Time magazine and Voice of America, register details about their staff and operations directly with the government. This decision, that will affect at least 13 journalists, is meant by China as a “reprisal” against the US administration’s decisions earlier this year to reduce the number of Chinese citizens employed by the Chinese state media outlets in the US and to require these media to register as foreign missions.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on China to immediately revoke these measures that further restrains the international community’s right to information in this critical time of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The despotic control of news and information by Beijing had a very negative impact at the starting point of this coronavirus epidemic,” says RSF’s Secretary-General Christophe Deloire, who adds that Chinese president Xi Jinping “ has a huge responsibility in front of all human beings.”
“This is a new major attack by Beijing against international press freedom, which the regime wants to portray as a media war in order to legitimize what it is doing,” says RSF’s East Asia Bureau head Cédric Alviani. “The media targeted by China enforce and abide by the principles of ethical journalism—including editorial independence and the verification of facts—while the Chinese state media officially serve as mouthpieces for the Chinese Communist Party.”
The restrictions put in place by the US administration, which were announced on March 2nd and entered into force on March 13th, apply to Xinhua News Agency, China Global Television Network, China Radio International, China Daily Distribution Corporation and Hai Tian Development USA, five companies that are notorious for distributing the Beijing regime’s propaganda.
In a report titled "China's Pursuit of a New World Media Order" published last year, RSF revealed China’s strategy to control information beyond its borders, a project that poses a threat to press freedom throughout the world.
The United States ranked 48th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index while China itself ranked 177th.