عربي Español Русский Français 简体中文

Reply to the Open Letter Co-Signed by Publishers of
Three US Media Outlets

2020/03/28

Publishers of the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the New York Times issued a co-signed open letter on 24 March. However, regrettably, it was sent to the wrong recipient. It should have been addressed to the US government.

Things have their causality. The three publishers happened to get one point right in their letter -- China's decision to revoke press credentials of their journalists was a response to the "recent expulsions by the US government" of 60 Chinese journalists from the United States. The All-China Journalists Association had released a statement on the US expulsion of Chinese journalists on 6 March. Yet it is worthwhile to recap how the US has been escalating its political oppression of the Chinese media:

  • In December 2018, relevant Chinese media outlets in the US were required to register as "foreign agents".
  • On 18 February 2020, Xinhua News Agency, CGTN, CRI, China Daily and the American distributor of People's Daily overseas edition were designated as "foreign missions".
  •  On 2 March, the US announced the de facto expulsion of over 60 Chinese journalists by 13 March.
  • In addition, since 2018, the US denied visas for 29 Chinese journalists without any reason, including nine based in the US.
  • Chinese journalists can only get single-entry visas. Some cannot get back to the US after a home leave due to visa rejection. They are also required to submit extra documents for visa application.

When the US side announced the expulsion and escalated political oppression of the Chinese journalists, did you three key media outlets, known as the "conscience of industry" in the United States, speak up for your Chinese colleagues? Did you openly criticize the US government and urge it to revoke the wrong decision? Where was the "freedom of press" that you always claim to advocate? No one should expect China to remain silent to the growing political oppression or discrimination by the United States.

The open letter attempted to link China's reciprocal countermeasures to the reporting of COVID-19. It claimed that the US journalists were "expelled" because of their coverage of the outbreak in China. That seemed to suggest that those journalists were the only source of information on China, and that without them, the rest of the world would have no access to the COVID-19 situation in China.

The fact is, since the epidemic broke out, China, in an open, transparent and responsible manner, has been releasing data of the situation on a daily basis. We have been providing regular updates to the WHO and countries around the world including the United States. We have also taken the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough measures to control the spread of the virus. We have made significant progress in containing the outbreak, and bought precious time for the world. China's important contribution has been fully recognized, highly commended, and widely applauded by the international community.

The three publishers need to be reminded that the world will not be missing "probing, accurate, on-the-ground reporting" simply because a few of your journalists are absent. Moreover, some of them must know quite well in their heart whether they had reported comprehensively, faithfully, and objectively to the world on China's fight against the coronavirus. And the stories they wrote are also self-evident. Such reports by such journalists will only hurt your time-honored brand as well-established media agencies.

In the letter, the three publishers asked the Chinese government to "ease the growing crackdown on independent news organizations". As the Foreign Ministry's spokespersons stressed time and again, China's basic state policy of opening-up has not changed and will not change. We welcome foreign media and their journalists to cover China in compliance with laws and regulations, and we will continue to provide them convenience and assistance in doing their job. If things were otherwise, how come there are so many international media outlets and journalists working in China and writing so many wide-ranging and diverse news stories about this country? What we oppose is ideological bias against China and the fabrication of fake news under the excuse of "freedom of press". What we oppose are behaviors that violate the professional ethics of journalism. We wonder how come the three publishers never say anything about the unwarranted restrictions and oppression imposed by the US government on your fellow Chinese journalists?

China and the US may have different social systems, but this should not affect journalists' ability to be objective, fair, truthful and accurate in their reporting. Chinese journalists in the US always comply strictly with local laws and regulations as well as professional ethics. It is unjust to impose restrictions on or create obstacles for them just because they are from a socialist country led by the Communist Party of China. And China does not put any US professional news media in a different category because of its pro-Democratic or pro-Republican reporting. Likewise, Chinese media organizations also deserve fair treatment in the US. The US should not oppress the Chinese media out of ideological bias. Such bullying only reveals that the US does not wish or dare to acknowledge the historical trend that the CPC is leading the Chinese people forward in big strides.

As you have realized, China's rapid development provides an inexhaustible source of news stories. We welcome reporting by impartial and fair-minded journalists. But we do not accept the arrogance and prejudice in the open letter. The Chinese people do not welcome biased and unjust reporting. As the saying goes, "He who tied the knot should untie it." If the three media agencies have complaints, they should bring them to the US government.

Last but not least, a reminder to the Wall Street Journal: you still owe the Chinese people an apology.

Information Department
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
People's Republic of China

Suggest to a friend
Print