China Freezes Press Credentials for Foreign Journalists Working for American News Outlets

Employees of The New York Times on their last day of work at the newspaper’s bureau in Beijing in March.
Credit…Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times

The Chinese government has stopped renewing press credentials for foreign journalists working for American news organizations in China and has implied it will proceed with expulsions if the Trump administration takes further action against Chinese media employees in the United States, according to six people with knowledge of the events.

The actions and threats raise the stakes in the continuing cycles of retribution between Washington and Beijing over news media organizations. Those rounds of retaliation are a prominent element of a much broader downward spiral in U.S.-China relations, one that involves mutually hostile policies and actions over trade, technology, educationdiplomatic missionsTaiwan and military presence in Asia.

American news organizations immediately affected by China’s latest actions include CNN, The Wall Street Journal and Getty Images. Journalists from all three organizations tried to renew press cards with the Foreign Ministry last week, but were told the cards, which are usually good for one year, could not be renewed. In total, at least five journalists in four organizations have been affected, several reporters said.

One journalist said Foreign Ministry officials told him that his fate depended on whether the United States decided in the fall to renew the visas of Chinese journalists working in America who are under new visa regulations imposed by the Department of Homeland Security in May. Other journalists have received similar messages.

The journalist said he was told by Chinese officials that if the Trump administration decided to expel Chinese journalists, Beijing would take reciprocal action. Many of the Chinese journalists work for state-run news organizations.

Foreign journalists working in China must renew their press cards to get new residence permits from the Public Security Bureau, the main police organization. The residence permits are the equivalent of visas that allow foreigners to live in China. The journalists with expired press cards were told by police officials after their discussions with Foreign Ministry officials that they would be given residence permits that are good until November 6.

They were given letters from the Foreign Ministry that said they could continue to work in China for the time being despite the expired press cards, according to a copy of one such letter obtained by The New York Times.

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SOURCE: The New York Times, Edward Wong