March 3, 2020

RSF urges US State Department to rescind restrictions on Chinese journalists

Brendan Smialowski/AFP
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the State Department to immediately rescind a personnel cap placed on five Chinese state media outlets operating in the United States, which would reduce the number of journalists working at those outlets in the United States by more than a third. The US and Chinese governments must put an end to the weaponization of media as a tool to retaliate against the other nation.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on March 2 the Trump administration’s decision to reduce the number of Chinese citizens employed by Chinese news outlets in the United States from 160 to no more than 100 Chinese staff. Effective March 13, the restrictions apply to five state media outlets including the Xinhua News Agency, China Global Television Network, China Radio International, China Daily Distribution Corporation and Hai Tian Development USA. This follows China’s recent revocation of press credentials for three Wall Street Journal reporters based in Beijing, which was in response to a February 18 State Department decision to require several Chinese news outlets to register as foreign missions.   



This outrageous action goes against the values of our nation, which has always been a beacon for press freedom around the world,” said Dokhi Fassihian, Executive Director of RSF USA. “Instead of using the media as a means to retaliate against China, Secretary of State Pompeo should practice what he preaches. Retaliating against journalists—whether they be Chinese or American—is not the way America's leading diplomat should be modeling support for press freedom globally. The State Department should  swiftly lift this arbitrary cap and both the US and Chinese governments should allow journalists to operate freely, especially amid a global health crisis.” 



In a statement announcing this latest action, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote that the State Department “urge[s] the Chinese government to immediately uphold its international commitments to respect freedom of expression, including for members of the press.” RSF made a similar request of Secretary Pompeo a month prior, when he retaliated against NPR by removing a State Department reporter from the press pool days after a different NPR reporter, Mary Louise Kelly, asked him questions about Ukraine.



The United States and China are ranked 48th and 177th respectively out of 180 countries in RSF's 2019 World Press Freedom Index