BEIJING (AP) — China has demanded staff and business information from four U.S. media companies including The Associated Press in what it called a necessary response to similar demands by Washington on Chinese state-controlled news outlets.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian announced Wednesday that the AP, United Press International, CBS and National Public Radio had seven days to file declarations regarding their staff, financial operations, real estate ownership and other matters.
“It should be pointed out that the above-mentioned measures by China are completely necessary countermeasures and are completely legitimate defenses compelled by unreasonable suppression of the U.S. side on Chinese media agencies in the United States,” Zhao said at a daily briefing.
The Trump administration last month added four Chinese media outlets to a list of organizations that should be considered “foreign missions” because of their ties to the government and the ruling Communist Party. That move could force them to cut staff in the U.S. and adds to a long list of frictions in economic and political relations between the two countries.
Zhao said recent U.S. policies damage the reputation and image of Chinese media, impact their operations and “seriously interfere with the normal people-to-people exchanges between China and the U.S.”
The Trump administration’s moves are rooted in “Cold War thinking” and go against the freedom of the press long espoused by Washington, he said.
“China urges the U.S. to immediately change its course and correct its mistakes and stop the political suppression and unreasonable restrictions of the Chinese media,” Zhao said.
State Department officials said at the time that the four organizations, including state-run CCTV, would be required to submit a list of everyone who works for them in the U.S. and any real estate holdings, the same as is required of foreign embassies or consulates.
None is being ordered to leave the U.S. and no limits on their activities were announced. But a visa cap was put on five other Chinese media organizations in March, forcing them to reduce their Chinese staff two weeks after they were designated as foreign missions.
Chinese media including the official Xinhua News Agency and the international arm of state broadcaster CCTV are now restricted to a total of 100 visas. Collectively, they employed about 160 Chinese in the U.S., meaning about 60 had to leave.
China retaliated by ordering more than a dozen reporters from The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to hand in their press credentials, forcing them to leave the country because their visas were tied to their work status.