China warns of countermeasures in response to new US visa regulations for journalists

China warns of countermeasures in response to new US visa regulations for journalists

Foreign Ministry spokesman calls US restrictions “an escalation in the crackdown on Chinese media”

BEIJING – China warned the US on Monday that it would take countermeasures in response to Washington’s decision to tighten visa requirements for Chinese journalists, and called on the United States to “rectify its mistake” immediately.

Last week, the United States set a new rule by restricting visas for Chinese journalists to 90 days with an extension. The rule took effect on Monday. Such visas are usually unlimited and do not need to be renewed if the employee does not transfer to another company or the media.

A senior U.S. Department of Homeland Security official who spoke with reporters anonymously at the end of last week said the new rules would allow the agency to revise visa applications from Chinese journalists more often and would likely reduce the total number of Chinese journalists in the United States.

“Thus, more measures will be created to protect national security,” the official added.

The new rules will not apply to journalists with passports from Hong Kong or Macau, two semi-autonomous territories of China follows from the explanation of the US Department of Homeland Security.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters on a daily briefing in Beijing on Monday that China regrets and rejects the US decision, which the diplomat called an escalation of the crackdown on Chinese media.

“We are strongly opposed and extremely disappointed with this,” said Zhao Lijian. “We demand that the United States immediately correct its mistake, otherwise China will have no choice but to take countermeasures.”

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The United States and China have taken a number of reciprocal steps in recent months against journalists.

In March, China expelled American journalists working for three American newspapers. A month earlier, the United States threatened to treat the five Chinese state-owned media operating in the United States as foreign embassies.

Earlier, China expelled three Wall Street Journal journalists, two Americans and one Australian, after the newspaper published an author’s column in which China was called “Asia’s Real Sick.”

By promulgating the new rule on Friday, the US Department of Homeland Security referred to the “crackdown on independent journalism” by the Chinese authorities.

“For a period of time, the United States adhered to a Cold War mentality and ideological bias and constantly increased pressure on the Chinese media,” said Zhao Lijian.

“Now they use visas to introduce discriminatory restrictions, seriously limiting the ability of the Chinese media to properly cover events in the US, seriously undermining relations between the peoples of our countries,” he added.