BEIJING/SHANGHAI • China vowed yesterday to retaliate if the US persisted with “hostile action” against Chinese journalists who may be forced to leave the country in the coming days if their US visas are not extended.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters at a daily briefing in Beijing that no Chinese journalist in the United States had been granted a visa extension since Washington, on May 11, limited their stay to 90 days, with an option to extend.
“The US has been escalating its actions against Chinese journalists,” Mr Wang told reporters.
“The US should immediately correct its mistake and stop its actions. If the US persists, China will take a necessary and legitimate response to safeguard its rights,” he added.
Mr Wang did not say how many Chinese journalists were affected or what retaliation Beijing might consider, but the editor of China’s Global Times newspaper said earlier yesterday that US journalists based in Hong Kong would be among those targeted should Chinese journalists be forced to leave the US.
“Chinese side has prepared for the worst scenario that all Chinese journalists have to leave,” Mr Hu Xijin said on Twitter.
“If that’s the case, Chinese side will retaliate, including targeting US journalists based in HK.”
The Global Times is published by the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party.
The two countries, whose relations have deteriorated sharply recently over various issues including trade and the coronavirus outbreak, have exchanged several tit-for-tat actions involving journalists in recent months.
Washington in March slashed the number of Chinese nationals allowed to work at the US offices of major Chinese state-owned media from 160 to 100.
Beijing in turn had expelled US journalists working for three American newspapers – The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
Beijing has also threatened to match any more action taken by Washington against Chinese journalists.