Chinese authorities have refused to renew the press credentials on journalists working for U.S. news organizations based in China, an association of Bejing-based media workers said Monday.
Journalists from the Wall Street Journal, CNN, Bloomberg and Getty Image said their applications were being processed, instead of a new press card. They were advised to carry the letter along with their expired press cards as proof of journalistic identity.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said could be revoked at any time, according to the group. The affected journalists can continue reporting in the country with the letter.
The moves mark the latest escalation in tensions between the Trump administration and China. The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC) said that journalists were explicitly restrictions placed on Chinese journalists working in the U.S.
CNN said its Beijing-based correspondent, David Culver, an American citizen, was told by Chinese officials that the restriction was a “reciprocal measure” after U.S. decisions to limit visas by Chinese journalists in the U.S.
“However, our presence on the ground in China remains unchanged and we are continuing to work with local authorities to ensure that continues,” CNN said in a statement.
At a regular press briefing in Beijing, spokesman Zhao Lijian said China had notified the U.S. side of the status of the reporters’ applications and that their work and lives in China “would not be affected”.
In May, Washington limited that duration of stay for most U.S.-based Chinese journalists to 90 days. Beijing claims none of its journalists has heard back from U.S. authorities on the status of their latest applications for visa extension, which they say has seriously disrupted their work and life.
China and the U.S. have for months been locked in tit-for tat relation over the treatment of journalists in both countries. In the first half of this year China expelled 17 journalists, many of them from the U.S., after the Trump administration labelled Chinese state media operating in the U.S. as foreign missions.
In a press conference in Washington last Wednesday, David Stilwell, the US State Department’s Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, has said Beijing’s “reciprocal” moves against U.S. media were retaliations “grossly out of proportion to our simple desire to balance this relationship.”
Zhao Lijian on Monday accused U.S. officials of “using Chinese journalist as hostages” as prt of an effort to place pressure on China, according to the Journal. He also confirmed the measures were a response to restrictions imposed in the U.S., the newspaper noted.