As a standard and common practice in the diplomacy domain, the move is a decisive response to the Trump administration's unwarranted suppression and discriminatory practices against Chinese journalists, which also reflects Beijing's outrage over biased coverage of US media since the novel coronavirus outbreak, especially the racist and false reporting that intentionally smears China, analysts said.
In response to the US designation of five Chinese media agencies as "foreign missions," China demands, in the spirit of reciprocity, that the China-based branches of Voice of America, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and Time declare in written form information about their staff, finance, operation and real estate in China, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a public statement.
When it comes to US slashing the staff size of Chinese media outlets in the country, China demands that journalists of US citizenship working with the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post whose press credentials are due to expire before the end of 2020 notify the Department of Information of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs within four calendar days starting from Wednesday and hand back their press cards within ten calendar days.
They will not be allowed to continue working as journalists in China, including its Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.
Also, in response to the discriminatory restrictions, the US has imposed on Chinese journalists with regard to visa, administrative review and reporting, China will take reciprocal measures against American journalists, the ministry said.
"Country-to-country relations are based on reciprocity. If the US imposes discriminatory policies against Chinese media in the US, we'll play by the American rules of the game," Shen Yi, an expert from Fudan University, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
And listing these five news outlets is because of their biased coverage on China which is purely ideologically driven, he said, noting that those five, as the liberal publications, always prioritize their political tendencies.
"China's countermeasures sent a clear signal that China does not require anyone or any institution to accept its ideology. But if they pretend to be 'asleep' and continue to bombard people with fake news and lies, China is left with no choice but to take actions," Shen said.
The Wall Street Journal called "China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia" in an opinion article published on 3 February, revealing the newspaper's deep-seated racial discrimination, which is a clear contradiction of the values of freedom and equality promoted by the US, according to observers.
The New York Times is also among the Western media which cover China stories with double standard and biased practices.
Its contradictory comments on the lockdown policies of China and Italy sparked criticism among Chinese public, in which it praised Italy's action as it's "risking its economy in an effort to contain Europe's worst coronavirus outbreak." However, the post showed a different stance from its other tweet 20 minutes ago that claimed the lockdown in China "came at great cost for its people's livelihoods and personal liberties."
The New York Times' coverage of the outbreak aiming to attack China's political system and smear China's effort to treat novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19) patients is unprofessional, biased and even inhuman, Chinese experts said, urging biased Western media to stop ignoring Chinese efforts in medical care and protection of the people's lives.
When the NYT came to cover the makeshift Fang Cang hospitals to treat patients with milder symptoms, the report said the condition in the shelter is grim. It also quoted a US professor to say the patients who survived recalled poor or even hostile treatment from healthcare workers, and inadequate food and bathing facilities. Patients became delusional; fights often broke out.
However, patients at Fang Cang hospitals reached by the Global Times rebutted media portrayals of the makeshift hospitals as being "concentration camps," saying the conditions got improved compared with their beginning days, which is evident both in better sanitation and in the catering of shrimps, steaks and fish provided for patients.
Diao Daming, a US studies expert at Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times that the reason why the five media outlets are listed is simple: "ideological bias against China, cooking up fake news under the disguise of press freedom, and breaches of journalism ethics," and these five media outlets have shown all these tendencies in covering China story.
The impact on the five US media is obvious, Diao said. "If they can't report news about China based on facts, then their reports should be reduced and even banned, as they have lost qualifications to report China to the English-speaking world."
Asked if the US government would escalate the confrontations against China, Diao noted that "based on current US actions against Chinese journalists, and some extreme insults and stigmatizations made by US senior politicians against China, it showed that the US government is losing basic rationality, and we can't use normal logic to predict the US anymore."
No matter what the US does next, the Chinese side has made it very clear, if the US insists on wrong doings, China will retaliate likewise, Diao further said.
In recent years, the New York Times and other US media have often used the Xinjiang issue to smear and attack China. They claim to have obtained "internal documents" from "detention camps" in the Xinjiang region alleging that China has conducted ethnic persecution, religious repression and forced labor. However, these so-called "internal documents" were all from the overseas based "Eastern Turkistan" group. The documents have been refuted by Chinese officials and large numbers of local people have also spoken up, questioning the documents' authenticity and inconsistencies.
China's religious policies have often been attacked by Western countries, but misinformation and bias in the reports has made their reporting nothing trustworthy. For example, The NYT called the vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang region "internment camps and prisons" in a December 2019 story.
The centers were actually built to help trainees get rid of religious extremism and acquire a better education and vocational skills for employment. The centers could safeguard social stability in Xinjiang.
Since the end of December, the NYT has published several opinion pieces on China, even putting them on its website's front page, in which the topic of Xinjiang was highlighted. On 1 January, on the NYT's Chinese website, several Xinjiang stories made up a large portion of the page focusing on Xinjiang labor projects and accusing China of suppression on Xinjiang and Uygur children, which China has firmly rejected.
Like so-called internal documents about "internment camps and prisons," the NYT came up with groundless stories on so-called forced labor, which turned out to be fake news.
Wednesday's countermeasures are justified given Washington's outrageous moves against China and such strong countermeasures are also rarely seen from China, analysts said.
In covering Hong Kong anti-government protests from June to December in 2019, US media like the NYT and VOA constantly ignored the fact that rioters provoked police officers, broke the law, jeopardized public safety and dragged Asia's once finest financial trade and business hub through months-long protests that escalated into riots.
The NYT even published a flurry of articles featuring the radical protesters who flouted the rule of law as "brave young fighters" for so-called freedom.
Such biased reporting and their tendency to turn black into white also severely challenged the fundamental bottom line of "one country, two systems."
"China does not seek to create new troubles, but to remind the US of its improper actions, urging it to make some corrections. Only in this way can normal media communications in China and the US be smooth," said Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing.
"The exchanges between China and the US could not be driven by the Cold War mentality and ideological bias. Otherwise, the US reporting on China must be biased and full of prejudice," he said.
We will still maintain a basic open position. It will not prevent China from opening to the outside world, including to the US. There is still broad space for exchanges between the two sides. The two countries should do everything to create conditions for better communication and promote cooperation, he added.
China urges the US to immediately change course, undo the damage, and stop its political oppression and arbitrary restrictions on Chinese media organizations, the foreign ministry said in the statement. Should the US choose to go further down the wrong path, it could expect more countermeasures from China, it noted.
Compared to previous reaction, China's response this time is more assertive and more straightforward, which shows that China-US relations have entered a new phase. In other words, China will no longer restrain itself, Shen noted. "If the US obstructs, China will certainly fight back."
In early March, the All-China Journalists Association has spoken out for the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese journalists overseas twice in a week following Washington's latest decision to cap Chinese media employee numbers in the US. The group slammed US double standards on "freedom of the press" and its hegemonic bullying.
This article originally appeared on the Global Times website.