May 11, 2020 / 7:45 AM / 18 days ago

China warns of countermeasures to new U.S. rule for Chinese reporters

BEIJING (Reuters) - China warned on Monday that it will take countermeasures in response to a U.S. decision to tighten visa terms for Chinese journalists and urged the United States to immediately “correct its mistake”.

The United States last week issued a new rule limiting visas for Chinese reporters to a 90-day period, with the option for extension, that takes effect on Monday. Such visas are typically open-ended and do not need to be extended, unless the employee moves to a different company or medium.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters during a daily briefing in Beijing that China deplored and rejected the U.S. decision, which Zhao called an escalation of suppression against Chinese media.

“We are resolutely opposed and strongly dissatisfied with this,” Zhao said.

“We require the U.S. to immediately correct its mistake, or China will have no choice but to take countermeasures.”

The United States and China have been engaged in a series of retaliatory actions involving journalists in recent months.

In March, China expelled American journalists from three U.S. newspapers, a month after the United States said it would begin to treat five Chinese state-run media entities with U.S. operations as foreign embassies.

Earlier, China expelled three Wall Street Journal reporters - two Americans and an Australian - after the paper published an opinion column calling China the “real sick man of Asia”.

In issuing the new regulation on Friday, the Department of Homeland Security cited what it called China’s “suppression of independent journalism”.

“For a period of time, the U.S. has stuck to a Cold War mentality and ideological bias, and it has continuously escalated its suppression of Chinese media,” Zhao said.

“Now they’re using visas to take discriminatory limitations, severely disrupting the Chinese media’s ability to report normally in the U.S., severely disrupting people-to-people relations between our two countries.”

Reporting by Huizhong Wu; writing by Se Young Lee and Ryan Woo; Editing by Toby Chopra

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