China says within its rights to bar U.S. reporters from Hong Kong
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[March 18, 2020]
By Gabriel Crossley and Tony Munroe
BEIJING (Reuters) - China defended its
decision on Wednesday to expel American journalists from three U.S.
newspapers and bar them even from working in Hong Kong, saying the
measure falls within the central government's purview over diplomatic
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang also warned that China
would be compelled to take further action against American media and
journalists in China if the United States did not "correct its
"The U.S. has said that all options are on the table. Today, I can also
tell the U.S. that all options are on the table for China," Geng told a
regular daily press briefing.
In the early hours of Wednesday, Beijing announced the expulsion of the
journalists as retaliation for U.S. actions against Chinese media
organisations, sharply escalating a tit-for-tat between Beijing and
Washington over press freedom.
The decision, which comes amid increasing bitterness in rivalry between
the United States and China, also raised questions about Hong Kong's
autonomy under a "one country, two systems" agreement that sets out the
former British colony's autonomy from the mainland.
But under Hong Kong's Basic Law, as its mini constitution is known,
Beijing is ultimately responsible for foreign affairs and defence in
Geng said the expulsions were in response to U.S. actions and that the
decision to oust the journalists, and block them from Hong Kong, fell
under Beijing's diplomatic authority.
China said it would expel U.S. correspondents with the New York Times <NYT.N>,
News Corp's <NWSA.O> Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post whose
credentials expire by the end of 2020, and those affected would also not
be allowed to work as journalists in Hong Kong.
In the past, foreign journalists kicked out of, or barred from, China
were allowed to work in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong government did not immediately respond to a request for
[to top of second column]
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang takes a question from
a journalist during the daily press briefing of the Foreign Ministry
in Beijing, China, March 18, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
The expulsion is expected to affect at least 13 journalists,
according to the Foreign Correspondents Club of China, which said it
"deplores" China's decision.
Geng declined to say how many journalists were affected by the
The dispute has spiralled quickly.
Last month, Washington forced Chinese state media firms to register
as foreign embassies.
Beijing then expelled three Wall Street Journal correspondents - two
Americans and an Australian - following an opinion column by the
newspaper that called China the "real sick man of Asia".
The United States then slashed the number of journalists allowed to
work there at four major Chinese state-owned media outlets to 100,
from 160 previously. It cited a "deepening crackdown" on independent
reporting in China.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong said it was alarmed at
the decision to expel the journalists and even more concerned that
they would be banned from working as journalists in Hong Kong.
It said Hong Kong must provide assurances that foreign journalists
working in Hong Kong and those applying to work in the city would
continue to be issued employment visas without interference from the
(Reporting by Gabriel Crossley; Writing by Tony Munroe; Editing by
Christian Schmollinger, Robert Birsel)
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