China expels US journalists from NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

China announced Tuesday it is expelling U.S. journalists from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, the latest move in escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing over media coverage.

China also demanded that the three U.S. outlets, along with Time magazine and Voice of America, provide detailed information about their respective operations.

A spokesman for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the steps are "entirely necessary" and called them "reciprocal countermeasures that China is compelled to take in response to the unreasonable oppression the Chinese media organizations experience in the U.S."

"They are legitimate and justified self-defense in every sense. What the U.S. has done is exclusively targeting Chinese media organizations, and hence driven by a Cold War mentality and ideological bias," the spokesman added.

China also ordered all U.S. 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.”

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Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron called the decision "particularly regrettable because it comes in the midst of an unprecedented global crisis" when "clear and reliable information" on the international response is essential to the public. 

The Hill has reached out to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal for comment. 

The expulsions come just weeks after the Trump administration announced new restrictions against Chinese journalists. The State Department recently identified five Chinese media outlets as “foreign missions of the People’s Republic of China.”

“Unlike foreign media organizations in China, these entities are not independent news organizations,” Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoIran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report To support Hong Kong's freedom, remember America's revolution Senate passes sanctions bill targeting China over Hong Kong law MORE said on March 2.

On Feb. 19, China expelled three journalists from The Wall Street Journal over a piece published in the newspaper's opinion section.

“The Chinese people do not welcome media that publish racist statements and maliciously attacks China,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters at the time. “In light of this, China has decided to revoke the press cards of the three Wall Street Journal correspondents in Beijing starting today.”