China was “compelled” to expel journalists from multiple American legacy publications because of the measures taken against them in the U.S., Chinese ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai said during an interview Sunday.
China announced March 17 that it will expel American journalists who work for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post from the country. The country also demanded that the three publications, as well as Voice of America and Time magazine, hand over information about their operations to the Chinese government.
Axios reporter Jonathan Swan pushed Cui on the decision to expel American journalists during an interview that aired on “Axios on HBO.” Cui appeared to blame the U.S. and said China had no choice. He also alleged that the journalists were not being expelled from the country.
“Well, I think I still have to give you the right facts,” Cui said. “First, it’s not expelling anybody from China. Their work permit as journalists will be terminated.”
“But mostly importantly, we are doing all this in response to the measures taken by the U.S. government against our journalists here. So, in a sense, we are compelled to do all these things.”
The Trump administration announced additional restrictions on the number of Chinese citizens allowed to work for five state-controlled Chinese news organizations in the U.S. on March 3. Swan noted that China actually made the first move by expelling three journalists from The Wall Street Journal “because of critical coverage of the Communist Party’s response to the coronavirus.”
Cui bashed the the WSJ in his response and accused the publication of running “an article with very insulting language on the entire Chinese nation.” (RELATED: Chinese Official Blames US For Introducing Coronavirus To Wuhan, Says US ‘Owes Us An Explanation’)
“That caused a lot of anger among the Chinese people,” Cui said. “So the government had to respond. Then, the U.S. government had taken actions against our journalists here. People who have never violated U.S. law. People who are just doing their professional job here, and they are expelled by the U.S. government. Then we have follow the principle of reciprocity, we have to respond.”
Swan noted that while the WSJ article criticized the Chinese government’s response to the novel coronavirus, it didn’t actually violate any laws. Cui doubled down that the article was “very insulting” to China, and Swan then asked “whether it’s a good idea to expel reporters over something you disagree with.”
“The first question you haven’t asked, ‘whether it’s a good idea to write such an article at home,'” Cui responded, putting the blame back on American journalists.