China’s Foreign Ministry summons US embassy official over Pompeo’s threat to eject Chinese reporters, promises response

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The Chinese Foreign Ministry has called for a meeting with a US embassy official after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened to expel Chinese reporters working in the US, as the two sides become embroiled in a “press war.”

“In recent years, the US government has adopted various restrictions on Chinese news organizations in the United States,” said Hua Chunying, head of the Foreign Ministry’s news department. 

“If the US takes further harassment and restriction measures against Chinese news organizations in the US, the Chinese side will certainly respond further.”

The stern statement comes after the Trump administration suggested it could expel hundreds of Chinese journalists operating in the US in response to Beijing’s ejection of three Wall Street Journal reporters last week. Noting that Washington had “unreasonably offended and provoked China first,” Hua said Beijing was now “rightfully” defending itself.

A February 3 opinion piece at the Journal dubbed China the “real sick man of Asia” and accused authorities of deliberately concealing the “true scale” of the COVID-19 outbreak that’s infected tens of thousands in the country. Dubbing the op-ed “insulting” and “racist,” Beijing gave its authors five days to leave China – prompting Washington to designate a number of Chinese media outlets working in the US as “foreign missions” on the same day.

“In the name of so-called freedom of speech, US Secretary of State Pompeo and others blatantly supported the serious mistakes of the Wall Street Journal, and made no distinction between right and wrong about China’s fight against the new pneumonia epidemic,” Hua continued, slamming the “threat of revenge against the Chinese media” as “unacceptable.”

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