By Rachel Oswald
The National Press Club and the National Press Club Journalism Institute condemn China’s decision to expel American journalists working for the United States’ biggest newspapers.
“During this time of extraordinary international uncertainty and fear about the spread and ramifications of the coronavirus, slamming the door on independent journalism serves no good purpose for the people of the world,” said National Press Club President Michael Freedman.
“In fact, this action will likely backfire on Beijing, which badly needs to stabilize its economy from the effects of COVID-19. That is far less likely if international investors and businesses question information coming out of China while independent and reliable news outlets are being restricted in their reporting there.”
“The Chinese Foreign Ministry is trying to justify its expulsion of these American journalists by arguing it’s merely reciprocating after the United States did it first,” said NPC Journalism Institute President Angela Greiling Keane.
“But the State Department’s February decision to limit the number of visas to 100 for Chinese employees of five Chinese government-controlled news outlets isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. Rather, it’s a marked escalation and further deepens this tit-for-tat cycle that could leave both China and the United States dangerously in the dark about what the other country is doing.
“With COVID-19 rampaging around the world, one of the best disinfectants for this virus is cold hard facts, uncovered and delivered by professional, independent journalists.”
The Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry order applies to accredited journalists working in mainland China for The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal whose credentials are set to expire this year. The order requires those journalists to turn in their press cards within 10 days, which would invalidate their work visas and lead to their expulsion from the country, according to the Times.
The order also requires the Times, the Post and the Journal, as well as Time magazine and the U.S.-government funded Voice of America, to supply Beijing with numerous details about their operations. It was not immediately clear how many journalists the order would affect.
The National Press Club, the world’s leading professional organization for journalists, represents more than 3,000 reporters, editors and professional communicators worldwide. The Club’s nonprofit, the National Press Club Journalism Institute, promotes an engaged global citizenry through an independent and free press, and equips journalists with skills and standards to inform the public in ways that inspire civic engagement.