The Chinese government expelled three Wall Street Journal reporters in retaliation to a headline from an opinion article that they found racist.
Josh Chin — the Wall Street Journal’s deputy bureau chief in Beijing — reporter Chao Deng, and reporter Philip Wen were ordered Wednesday to leave the country within five days. Chin and Deng are American nationals, and Wen is an Australian citizen. The reporters were also stripped of their press credentials.
China expels three Wall Street Journal journalists in Beijing, a rare expulsion of multiple reporters from the same organization https://t.co/y0ngQEgID9
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) February 19, 2020
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang said that the decision to expel the reporters comes after the Wall Street Journal published the opinion headline “China Is The Real Sick Man of Asia” earlier this month. At a regularly scheduled news briefing on Wednesday, Shuang said that “the editors used such a racially discriminatory title, triggering indignation and condemnation among the Chinese people and the international community,” USA Today reports.
Shuang also demanded that the Wall Street Journal apologize and punish those responsible for the column, which was written by Walter Russell Mead, a professor at Bard College. Mead argues that Chinese authorities “are trying to conceal the true scale” of the Coronavirus, the death toll of which has since the Feb. 3 publishing of the piece escalated past 2,000 people worldwide, according to USA Today. (RELATED: Two More Top Chinese Doctors Die Of Coronavirus — Is It More Dangerous Than Originally Thought?)
The move comes only a day after the United States State Department designated five media companies as agents of the Chinese Communist Party. The designation had been under consideration since December and includes Xinhua News Agency, China Global Television Network, China Radio International, China Daily Distribution Corporation and Hai Tian Development.
William Lewis, Wall Street Journal’s CEO, responded to the expulsion of the reporters with a statement expressing that the publication is “deeply disappointed” with China’s decision.
— WSJ Communications (@WSJPR) February 19, 2020
“We are deeply disappointed with today’s announcement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to expel three Wall Street Journal news reporters in response to a WSJ opinion piece published on February 3rd,” said Lewis.
“Our opinion pages regularly publish articles with opinions that people disagree – or agree with – and it was not our intention to cause offense with the headline on the piece,” Lewis added. “However, this has clearly caused upset and concern amongst the Chinese people, which we regret.”
Lewis also requested that China’s foreign ministry reinstate the visas for the three reporters.