China Issues Fresh Warning to U.S. in Spat Over Journalist Visas

China issued a new warning to the U.S. over journalist visas, after accusing the Trump administration of giving Chinese media staff new travel documents that would expire in a matter of days.

Some Chinese journalists in the U.S. were notified last week that their long-delayed visa applications had been approved, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a regular briefing Monday in Beijing. Those travel documents, however, covered a period from Aug. 4 to Nov. 4, Wang said, meaning some would immediately have to file for extensions.

“The U.S. also unreasonably asked that the Chinese journalists -- while waiting for their extension approval -- could not engage in coverage of news events,” Wang said. “So the Chinese journalists’ work and life are in great uncertainty.”

Other Chinese journalists still haven’t received replies to their applications, Wang said. China had expressed its concerns and demands through diplomatic channels made clear that it would take “firm countermeasures” should Washington continue with its “political persecution and suppression against Chinese journalists,” he said.

A spokesperson for U.S. embassy in Beijing couldn’t immediately confirm the renewals or comment on implications for Chinese journalists in the U.S.

Both sides have increasingly targeted each other’s journalists amid an escalating series of disputes over everything from trade to the coronavirus pandemic. As of September, the U.S. had expelled more than 60 Chinese media personnel and denied visas to more than 20 others, while the Chinese government forced a record 17 foreign correspondents to leave in the first half of this year.

Chinese authorities have already delayed renewing the press credentials of some journalists working for American media outlets, including Bloomberg News, CNN and the Wall Street Journal, in response to the Trump administration limiting visa terms for Chinese reporters in the U.S.

“Words for words, actions for actions -- that’s our principle,” Wang said Monday. “Don’t say we didn’t warn you.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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