Chinese Foreign Ministry new spokesman Zhao Lijian gestures as he speaks during a daily briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs office in Beijing, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. China’s foreign ministry on Monday said it didn’t matter that three expelled journalists had nothing to do with a Wall Street Journal editorial that Beijing deemed racist, and called on the paper to apologize. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
The United States government has been engaged in a bit of a high profile skirmish with the Chinese government. This is not about foreign Wuhan Chinese Kung-Flu virus, though the ChiCom response to that epidemic of blaming the US Army for creating the virus is undoubtedly exacerbating it, it is about the pervasive influence of Chinese government propaganda and information operations in the United States spearheaded by Chinese media organizations.
In September 2018, the US State Department took the long-overdue step of making Chinese state media organizations in the US register as agents of a foreign government. How they were ever allowed to operate without registering remains a mystery that only an Ivy League-educated diplomat will ever adequately explain.
The Justice Department ordered two leading Chinese state-run media organizations to register as foreign agents, according to people familiar with the matter, as U.S. officials ramp up efforts to combat foreign influence operations and toughen their stance on a variety of China policies.
The DOJ in recent weeks told Xinhua News Agency and China Global Television Network—known as CGTN now and earlier as CCTV—to register under a previously obscure foreign lobbying law that gained prominence when it was used in the past year against associates of President Donald Trump, including Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, the people said.
In February, China expelled three Wall Street Journal reporters because that outlet’s editorial page had reported what was happening in China with the spread of Wuhan virus.
Deputy Bureau Chief Josh Chin and reporter Chao Deng, both U.S. nationals, as well as reporter Philip Wen, an Australian national, were ordered to leave the country within five days, said Jonathan Cheng, the Journal’s China bureau chief.
The expulsions by China’s Foreign Ministry followed widespread public anger at the headline on the Feb. 3 opinion piece, which referred to China as “the real sick man of Asia.” The ministry and state-media outlets had repeatedly called attention to the headline in statements and posts on social media and had threatened unspecified consequences.
“Regrettably, what the WSJ has done so far is nothing but parrying and dodging its responsibility,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily news briefing Wednesday. “The Chinese people do not welcome those media that speak racially discriminatory language and maliciously slander and attack China.”
The three journalists work for the Journal’s news operation. The Journal operates with a strict separation between its news and opinion staffs.
Yeah, I laughed at the last paragraph, too.
On March 2, the Trump administration, which we all know is famously hostile to a free press
made faces at the Wall Street Journal reporters retaliated against China by expelling about 60 ChiCom agents.
The Trump administration on Monday limited to 100 the number of Chinese citizens who may work in the United States for five state-controlled Chinese news organizations. The decision is expected to escalate tensions between Washington and Beijing in a diplomatic feud that has caught journalists in the crossfire.
The restriction announced on Monday applies only to Chinese citizens working at five news organizations that the State Department deemed propaganda outlets controlled by the government in Beijing. It requires the five organizations — Xinhua, CGTN, China Radio, China Daily and People’s Daily — to limit the number of Chinese employees in the United States to 100, collectively. More than half — 59 — have been allocated to Xinhua, China’s official news agency.
Currently, about 160 Chinese citizens work in the United States for those news outlets, meaning that 60 must either leave by the time the new policy takes effect on March 13 or ensure they have a visa that will allow them to stay.
The 13th, of course, was last Friday.
Today, the Chinese government clapped back.
In the latest escalation of tensions between the two superpowers, China announced on Tuesday that it would expel American journalists working for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. It also demanded that those outlets, as well as the Voice of America and Time magazine, provide the Chinese government with detailed information about their operations.
The announcement, made by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, came weeks after the Trump administration limited the number of Chinese citizens who could work in the United States for five state-controlled Chinese news organizations to 100.
China instructed American journalists “whose press credentials are due to expire before the end of 2020” to “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.”
It went on to specify that the American journalists now working in China “will not be allowed to continue working as journalists in the People’s Republic of China, including its Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions.”
The actual announcement in Chinese (via Google Translate) is hilarious.
The Chinese side announces that starting from today:
First, the five Chinese media agencies in the United States are listed as “foreign missions” against the United States. The Chinese counterparts have called for “Voice of America”, “New York Times”, “Wall Street Journal”, “Washington Post”, and “Time” 》 The five US media offices in China report to China all written materials such as staff, finances, operations, and real estate information in China.
Second, in response to the significant reduction in the United States and the actual deportation of employees of Chinese media agencies in the United States, China requires American journalists whose New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post expiry of their press passes before the end of the year to report within four days from today. The Department of Information of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs declares the list and returns the press card within 10 days. In the future, it is not allowed to continue to work as a journalist in the People’s Republic of China, including Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions.
Third, in view of the U.S.’s discriminatory restrictions on visas, administrative review, and interviews of Chinese journalists, China will take reciprocal measures against U.S. journalists.
I’m trying to wrap my head around the idea of requiring the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Time to register as agents of the US government. Three of those outlets have been nothing short of vitriolic in their opposition to President Trump and his administration. If they are, in fact, agents of the US government, we need to, as the kids say, ‘do better’ when it comes to hiring agents in the future.
A lot of us on the right have noticed the relentless water-carrying by our media of ChiCom talking points and engaging in the whole silly “Chinese” and “Wuhan” designations of the foreign Chinese Wuhan Kung-Flu virus being racist.
“The Chinese Virus” https://t.co/Sm8wotuz6h
— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) March 16, 2020
Part of it is undoubtedly because these kinds of juvenile attacks are just how they roll. It is not unrealistic to speculate that the attacks on Trump over Wuhan virus response during the past weeks have had at least as much to do with those outlets trying to show their Chinese influencers that they were, just like the Chinese government, hostile to the Trump administration in hopes of currying favor with the ChiComs so they could keep their reporters in China. If that wasn’t their overt intention then one has to ask how they would have acted differently if it were their intention.