BEIJING (Reuters) – China has asked four U.S. media organizations to submit details about their operations in the country, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday, in what it described as retaliation for U.S. measures against Chinese media outlets.
The Associated Press (AP), UPI, CBS and National Public Radio (NPR) are required to provide information about their staff, financial operations and real estate in China within seven days, ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily news briefing.
“We urge the U.S. to immediately change course, correct its error, and desist (from) the political suppression and unreasonable restriction of Chinese media,” Zhao said.
The United States and China have been locked in a series of retaliatory actions involving journalists in recent months, amid increasing tensions over issues ranging from the coronavirus pandemic to Hong Kong.
Last month, the United States said it would start treating another four major Chinese state media outlets as foreign embassies, following similar measures taken by Washington earlier in the year.
That designation similarly required the outlets to report their personnel and real estate holdings.
In March, China expelled about a dozen U.S. journalists from the New York Times, the News Corp-owned Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. At the time, it also asked those outlets, as well as broadcaster Voice of America and Time magazine, to provide details on their China operations.
That had followed Washington’s move to slash the number of journalists permitted to work in the United States for four major Chinese state-owned media outlets.
“NPR is in communication with the relevant authorities and we are studying the request,” said an NPR spokesperson.
The AP said in a statement that it was “seeking more information about the requirements announced today and will review them carefully”.
CBS and UPI did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In May, Washington limited visas for Chinese reporters to a 90-day period, with the option for extension. Previously, such visas were typically open-ended.
(Reporting by Yew Lun Tian and Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Kim Coghill and Mark Heinrich)