China journalist association blasts US visa limits

BEIJING (AP) — The state-controlled All-China Journalists Association followed the government on Friday in blasting a Trump administration move that will cap the number of Chinese journalists allowed to work in the United States, resulting in the de-facto expulsion of about one-third of them.

In a statement, the association said Washington's actions have “seriously violated the normal and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese journalists in carrying out news reporting overseas, damaged the reputation of Chinese media and journalists, and interfered with their normal work abroad."

That closely echoed the wording of a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement issued Tuesday that accused Washington of harboring a “Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice."

The State Department announced Monday that a total of 100 journalists from five state-controlled Chinese state media outlets would be given visas, citing in part China’s increasingly harsh surveillance, harassment and intimidation of American and other foreign journalists in China for the move.

The five Chinese outlets, including the Xinhua News Agency and China Global Television Network, currently employ about 160 Chinese citizens in the U.S. There are about 75 Americans and other foreigners authorized to work for U.S. news outlets inside China, according to the White House.

The U.S. announcement followed China's expulsion last month of three Wall Street Journal reporters over an opinion column headline that the Foreign Ministry called racist, and the release of survey results by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China showing a continuing deterioration in working conditions for overseas media in China.

Last month, the Trump administration designated Xinhua, CGTN and three others as foreign missions, requiring them to register their properties and employees in the U.S. The State Department said that was in recognition of the fact that “they are effectively controlled” by the Chinese government. Chinese citizens working for other media organizations in the United States are unaffected by the cap.

The administration's move was also denounced by international journalist advocacy group, Reporters Without Borders, which called on the U.S. to immediately rescind the cap and said both governments must “put an end to the weaponization of media as a tool to retaliate against the other nation."

Responding to the criticism on Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the cap was imposed “in service of President Trump's mission to establish greater reciprocity in our relationship with China."

“We expect Beijing to take a more fair approach towards American and other foreign press inside of China," Pompeo said. “A free press helps expose corruption and protect the people from cover-ups, as well as help the world understand the (ruling Communist Party's) thinking.

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Associated Press writer Matt Lee contributed to this report from Washington.