China vowed on Tuesday to make a necessary and legitimate response if Washington continues escalating its political suppression of Chinese journalists based in the United States.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a daily news conference that no Chinese journalist in the U.S. has had their application for a visa extension granted since May, when Washington limited their visas to 90 days with an option for an extension. Their visas are due to expire later this month.
The U.S. has been escalating its suppression of Chinese media due to a Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice, Wang said, urging Washington to immediately correct its mistakes.
According to Wang, since 2018, the U.S. has indefinitely delayed its approval or denied visas to over 20 U.S.-based Chinese journalists. In December 2018, it demanded that certain Chinese media organizations' U.S. offices register as "foreign agents".
China and the U.S. have exchanged several measures involving journalists in recent months, amid deteriorating bilateral ties.
In February, the U.S. designated five Chinese media entities in the U.S. as "foreign missions" and imposed a cap on the number of their employees, in effect expelling 60 Chinese journalists. China has since taken countermeasures against U.S. media outlets in the country in response.
In June, Washington listed four additional Chinese media outlets in the U.S. as "foreign missions". The move brings the total of Chinese news organizations the U.S. has designated with that label to nine. In retaliation, China demanded in July that four U.S. media outlets in China file declarations regarding their staff, financial operations, real estate ownership and other matters.
"Such U.S. moves seriously disrupt Chinese media's normal reporting in the U.S., damage the reputation of Chinese media and affect bilateral people-to-people exchanges," Wang said.
While boasting about freedom of the press, the U.S. interferes with and obstructs normal coverage by Chinese media in the country, which exposes its hypocrisy, double standards and hegemonic bullying, he said.
He repeated that the U.S. caused and bears responsibility for the current situation.
"If the U.S. is bent on going down the wrong path and doubles down on its mistakes, China will take necessary and legitimate measures to safeguard its legitimate rights," he added.
Wang did not say how many Chinese journalists were affected or what countermeasures China might consider, but the editor-in-chief of Global Times newspaper said earlier that U.S. journalists based in Hong Kong would be among those targeted.