The Beijing Personnel Service Corporation for Diplomatic Mission ordered at least seven Chinese nationals, working for US news agencies in Beijing, be dismissed from their jobs on March 19 and 20. The dismissals included workers from the New York Times, Voice of America and two other outlets, yet to be identified.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on March 18 that all US journalists working in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post will have their press credentials revoked. The announcement also demanded that Voice of America, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and Time magazinebe treated as diplomatic missions and “declare in written form information about their staff, finance, operation and real estate in China.”
The latest move to dismiss local staff at these US news organisations appears to be a direct counter-measure to the US government’s designation of five Chinese media agencies as government entities, subjecting them to the same rules as foreign missions, which includes a cap of 100 Chinese citizens working at Xinhua, CGTN, China Radio, China Daily, and The People’s Daily in the U.S.
The IFJ said: “These retaliatory actions between the US and China must stop. Journalists are being used as scapegoats in these power plays. Asking for the dismissal of local news staff working at US media outlets is a further escalation of an already volatile situation. These actions harm the public’s right to information, which is pivotal in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The IFJ urges the Chinese government to stop creating obstacles for journalists and to allow for a free flow of information.”