China stops renewing credentials for US media

Beijing, Sep 7 (efe-epa).- China has stopped renewing press credentials of United States correspondents stationed in the Asian country amid rising tensions between Beijing and Washington, a media organization warned on Monday.

The Foreign Correspondents Club of China said in a statement it is “very alarmed” that the foreign affairs ministry has “issued letters in lieu of press cards that force foreign journalists based in China into a precarious, temporary status”.

It warned that at least five journalists of different nationalities from four US media outlets have been affected by this in recent days, including reporters at the Wall Street Journal, CNN and Bloomberg.

The FCCC also said Beijing authorities have indicated that these letters could be revoked at any time, “thus putting them at constant threat of expulsion”.

More foreign journalists based in China are expected to receive these letters, it added.

“The Chinese government has explicitly said the move comes in response to a looming visa expiry deadline of November 6 for Chinese journalists based in the US, most of whom work for Chinese state media,” it said.

Hua Chunying, Chinese foreign ministry chief spokeswoman, said her department would be “pleased” to continue its “excellent cooperation with American journalists, if Chinese journalists are treated fairly in the United States”.

The FCCC warned that accredited foreign journalists in China have been turned into “pawns in a wider diplomatic conflict”.

It called on the Chinese government to “halt this cycle of tit-for-tat reprisals in what is quickly becoming the darkest year yet for media freedoms”.

China has expelled 17 foreign journalists in the first half of this year and at least a dozen others have received penalties of various kinds, including accreditation of one month instead of the standard year, according to the FCCC.

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