The Chinese Communist Party is delaying the renewal of press credentials of American media journalists working in China. Beijing’s actions are amid the growing diplomatic conflict with Washington.
According to the New York Post, at least five correspondents from four U.S. news media in China are working with their expired press credentials.
Britain’s Jeremy Page of the Wall Street Journal, CNN’s American David Culver and two non-U.S. journalists from Bloomberg received letters allowing them to continue working in China for about two months with their expired permits.
However, the Foreign Correspondents Club of China (FCCC) reported that the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicated that the letters issued to the journalists could be revoked at any time.
“These coercive practices have again turned accredited foreign journalists in China into pawns in a wider diplomatic conflict,” the club said in a statement posted on Twitter.
1/ The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China is very alarmed that Chinese authorities have stopped renewing press credentials for journalists working at US news organizations.
— Foreign Correspondents' Club of China (@fccchina) September 7, 2020
“The FCCC calls on the Chinese govt to halt this cycle of tit-for-tat reprisals in what is quickly becoming the darkest year yet for media freedoms,” the club added.
According to the Post, visas issued to journalists in China usually last a year.
The Beijing action comes against the backdrop of a growing conflict with Washington.
The U.S. State Department said the Chinese Foreign Ministry had recently informed the U.S. Embassy that it intended to deny renewal of the press card and refuse to process pending visa applications for journalists expelled earlier this year.
“The United States is of course troubled that these proposed actions … will worsen the reporting environment in China, which is already suffering a dearth of open and independent media reporting,” spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement cited by the Post.
Meanwhile, Chinese journalists in the United States are waiting for their expired work visas to be renewed. These correspondents are allowed to stay in the country for a 90-day grace period that expires in early November, according to sources cited by Reuters.
The Trump administration, through the secretary of state, has been imposing a series of restrictions on the actions of Chinese delegations in the United States in view of the lack of freedoms experienced by its citizens in China.
Earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reported that in the face of “significant barriers on American diplomats working in the People’s Republic of China,” the White House stated that diplomats of the Chinese Communist Party in the United States will now require approval to visit university campuses and meet with local government officials.
In a press release, Pompeo added that cultural events with an audience of more than 50 people organized by the Chinese Embassy and consular offices outside mission property will also require State Department approval.
The State Department also said it will “take action” to ensure that all consular and Chinese Embassy social networking accounts are properly identified, as the U.S. Embassy in Beijing is denied unrestricted access to social networks.
“These new requirements on People’s Republic of China’ diplomats are a direct response to the excessive restraints already placed on our diplomats by the People’s Republic of China, and they aim to provide further transparency on the practices of the government People’s Republic of China’s Government,” Pompeo said.