China recently has announced that it has made the decision to expel journalists from western outlets such as The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. The move comes amidst mounting tensions between the United States and the Middle Kingdom as the latter attempts to whitewash its actions and culpability in the coronavirus crisis.
According to CNBC, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement that mandated all U.S. reporters affiliated with the aforementioned publications to return their press credentials within 10 days.
"They will not be allowed to continue working as journalists in the People's Republic of China, including its Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions," the statement proclaimed.
A number of other news outlets were targeted in other ways. Voice of America and Time magazine have been asked to provide information about their staffing operations and financial statements to remain in good standing with the Chinese government.
This is not the first time this year that China has closed its doors to western -- particularly American -- reporters. It evicted three reporters from The Wall Street Journal earlier this year after the newspaper published an opinion piece titled "China is the Real Sick Man of Asia."
The decision was met with harsh condemnation, especially since the Journal's news team operates independently from the opinion pages.
A more material repercussion soon followed the outrage, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo set a new cap on the number of journalists in the United States working for Chinese government-controlled media. The number had previously been 160 individuals; Pompeo reduced it to 100.
This latest decision from the Communist regime continues the increasing escalation between the new nations. It has also opened up China to accusations of press suppression, a criticism it has most recently faced after a journalist who covered the COVID-19 epidemic -- despite government warnings -- went missing in early February. His whereabouts remain unknown.
"China's unprecedented attack on freedom of the press comes at a time of unparalleled global crisis. Trusted news reporting from and about China has never been more important," claimed Wall Street Journal Editor-in-Chief Matt Murray.
Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron added that it was especially "regrettable" that the new press restrictions come when more information is needed about the coronavirus and its effects as the disease continues its global spread.
"Severely limiting the flow of that information, which China now seeks to do, only aggravates the situation," Baron said.
Last but not least, critics have also pointed out that the timing also comes as China has begun a propaganda campaign. The new campaign not only suggests that China handled the coronavirus situation well, but also shifts blame from the origin of the virus from Wuhan to the United States, as was previously reported by The Inquisitr.