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China refuses to renew press cards for US journalists as media row deepens | China


Chinese authorities have refused to renew the press credentials for at least three reporters for US news organisations based in China, in the latest deterioration of ties between the two countries.

Journalists from the Wall Street Journal, CNN and Getty Images, who have recently attempted to renew their press cards, were told they could not because of recent US measures against China journalists in the US, according to those news organisations and people familiar with the matter.

Instead the journalists were given letters that give them temporary permission to work using their expired press credentials, which are usually valid for one year. Officials indicated that the future of their press cards would depend on whether the White House allows Chinese journalists to continue working in the US.

CNN said that its Beijing-based correspondent, David Culver, an American citizen, was told by Chinese officials that the restriction was a “reciprocal measure” to US decisions to limit visas by Chinese journalists in the US.

“However, our presence on the ground in China remains unchanged and we are continuing to work with local authorities to ensure that continues,” CNN said in a statement.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Jeremy Page, a British reporter in its Beijing bureau was also affected by the restrictions. Both CNN and the Wall Street Journal said their reporters were told that their visas, which depend on the validity of a press card, would be renewed but shortened to two months. Getty Images declined to comment on the issue.

China and the US have for months been locked in tit-for-tat retaliation over the treatment of journalists in both countries. In March China expelled more than a dozen US journalists after the US labelled Chinese state media operating in the US as foreign missions.

Then in May, in response to the suppression of US journalists in China, the Trump administration limited the length of time that Chinese reporters could remain in the US to three months, with the possibility of renewal. Those visas were reportedly due to expire in November – around the same time the recently affected CNN and Wall Street Journalist journalists visas will end if they are not renewed.

Since then, reporting conditions in China have worsened further with foreign correspondents blocked from conducting interviews and followed by security agents. Some academics have said that they must go through a special approval process in order to speak to foreign media.

Earlier this month, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times reporting on protests in Inner Mongolia was grabbed by the throat and pushed into a cell at a police station where she was detained for four hours.

Chinese officials have blamed the measures against China-based journalists on the unfair targeting of Chinese journalists in the US. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Thursday that the “media issue” between the US and China was one born out of a “Cold War mentality”.

“If the US keeps moving down the wrong path, China has no choice but to take justifiable and necessary countermeasures to firmly uphold its legitimate rights,” she said.

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