Media curbs show Washington's tricks against China get dirtier by the day: China Daily editorial| 2020-03-04 10:20:32|Editor: Wang Xiaoyu
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In a deeply unsettling escalation of the cross-Pacific spat over media presence, the United States administration announced on Monday it would limit the number of Chinese nationals working for five major Chinese media outlets, China Daily included.

While China's canceling of the visas of three Wall Street Journal reporters was due to that newspaper feeling no qualms about calling China the "sick man of Asia", a highly charged insult given its historical precedents, what the US is doing now represents a comprehensive policy attack on the Chinese media.

Under the aggregate cap of 100 for all five, more than one-third of the Chinese nationals working stateside for these media organizations will be affected by the "expulsion order".

The latest move by the US continues the harrying of Chinese media: Following the US State Department asking the five media outlets to register as "foreign agents" in 2018 and designating them as "foreign missions" last month, this new development imposes further restraints on their day-to-day operations.

And this may not end the worrisome trajectory, as Washington is reportedly considering limits on duration of stay for Chinese journalists, a move to which Beijing has reserved the right to respond in kind.

It is disappointing and regrettable that Chinese media institutions are now hostages to the deteriorating political relationship, which is badly in need of constructive engagement. Even more so as all the retrogressive moves by the US are being made in the name of freedom of the press, despite it wagging its tongue on this issue without cause.

The real-world outcome of this latest demonstration of the US administration's Cold War mentality is five major arteries of information flow between the world's two largest economies are being arbitrarily restricted.

More disturbing is this is taking place at a time when the two countries need close cooperation to fight the novel coronavirus epidemic. Furthermore, they need to better communicate with each other more than ever before so they can understand one another at a time of rapid global change.

The fundamental role of both Chinese and US media in bilateral relations is to be a channel for each country to explain this is who we are and to communicate intentions. Clogging such channels of communication will only add to the outstanding deficits in mutual understanding and political trust, which to a great extent is to blame for the current undesirable status quo in the two countries' relations.

China has boosted its media presence stateside believing there is a growing need for mutual understanding, and in the hope that by doing so it can help mitigate the prejudices and ignorance that misguide the two countries' approaches to each other.

The move to limit the normal operations of China's media outlets in the US, of which there are nine in all compared to 29 US media outlets with a presence in China, does a disservice to both countries. It also shows that in trying to engineer the humiliation of a country it regards as a rival to US preeminence, the US administration is willing to dishonor the values the US has long claimed to uphold.

The erroneous act, if not corrected, will have negative impacts on and severely damage the overall relationship of the two countries.