China promised Tuesday that they would take necessary actions against American journalists in Hong Kong, if the U.S. did not stop all “bullying” and grant visa extensions to U.S.–based Chinese journalists.
The State Department designated nine Chinese media outlets as “foreign missions” and a number of individuals have been deemed “foreign agents,” alleging that journalists for the media companies are mouthpieces for the Chinese government.
Visa restrictions have been placed on five of the media outlets, restricting the number of employees permitted into the U.S.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters during a press conference Tuesday that 60 employees were forced to leave the country due to the restrictions on their staff.
State-run news outlets such as Xinhua News Agency, along with CCTV, the international arm of the state broadcaster, had visa restrictions enforced in February, which permitted only 100 visas, down from 160.
“The relevant U.S. actions have severely disrupted Chinese journalists' normal reporting activities, gravely damaged the reputation of the Chinese media and affected the normal people-to-people exchanges between the two sides,” Wenbin said Tuesday.
“While priding itself on freedom of the press, the U.S. now willingly obstructs the Chinese media from doing their job," Wenbin added.
The U.S. State Department has cited concerns over the legitimacy of the new outlets, declaring they are “substantially owned or effectively controlled” by the Chinese government.
Additional imitations were placed on Chinese visas in May, allowing only 90-day stays, unless an extension is granted.
Webin told reporters Friday that no extensions have been granted, which means their visas will expire Thursday.
“Such a two-faced behavior exposed its hypocrisy in so-called freedom of the press, nothing short of double standards and hegemonic bullying,” Webin explained.
China responded to the initial designations earlier this year by forcing dozens of journalists from the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Washington Post to leave China.
Webin did not say what the repercussions for American journalists in China or Hong Kong would be, though he noted that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR) is “China’s territory.”
“If the U.S. is bent on going down the wrong path and doubles down on its mistakes, China is compelled to make necessary and legitimate reactions to firmly safeguard its legitimate rights and interests,” the Chinese spokesperson said Tuesday.
U.S.-China relations have become increasingly strained over the last several months, starting with the coronavirus pandemic.
The Trump administration has condemned China’s lack of transparency surrounding COVID-19, along with the recent security laws that breached Hong Kong’s regional autonomy. China’s latest actions in Hong Kong have brought condemnation from not only the U.S. but the U.K. and Taiwan
“The Central Government has the diplomatic authority to make reactions in response to U.S. oppression of Chinese media organizations in the U.S.,” Webin told reporters.
The State Department did not immediately respond to a Fox News request for comment.