Editor's Note: The following article is taken from the Chinese-language opinion column "The Real Point."
The U.S. administration announced on Monday it would slash the number of Chinese nationals working at the U.S. offices of five major Chinese media outlets, virtually evicting 60 Chinese journalists. The move, coming around two weeks after Washington designated the five media outlets as "foreign missions", is blatant political oppression and bullying of the Chinese media.
The decision was based on the so-called "principle of reciprocity", but the truth is that the Chinese government has never set limits on the number of U.S. media organizations and the number of employees in China.
There are currently 29 U.S. media organizations in China and only nine Chinese media outlets in the United States. Besides, U.S. journalists are given multiple-entry visas to China, while Chinese journalists only have single-entry visa to the States. At least 21 Chinese journalists have been denied U.S. visas since last year. Is this the "principle of reciprocity"?
China's decision to revoke the press credentials of three Wall Street Journal reporters based in Beijing was made in response to the newspaper publishing an article with a defamatory and racist headline against China, at a time when the Chinese nation is battling the COVID-19 epidemic, a danger to global public security. The WSJ had no intention to correct its behavior after crossing the line.
The U.S. move against the five Chinese media, unlike the action taken by Beijing, is a comprehensive and systematic crackdown on Chinese media. The fact that Washington tried to suppress the five media outlets which it said were official government entities shows the U.S. was really targeting China's political system.
China and the United States have different institutions, and the media's role differs between the two societies. Take the role of the media in the COVID-19 epidemic as an example. China's mainstream media were committed to conveying the idea of international solidarity and cooperation, as well as gratitude to all those providing China with assistance, including those from the United States.
In contrast, some mainstream U.S. media outlets wasted no time smearing and attacking China, some with racist overtones. Is that what freedom of speech all about?
Chinese media have also been reporting from the United States for years. They have been strictly abiding by the laws and regulations of the country and following the professional ethics of journalism, helping facilitate the understanding and communication between people of the two nations. Their professionalism is generally recognized by the American society.
Washington's sudden move to disrupt their operation in the States is another example reflecting its inherent Cold War thinking and ideological bias. The five Chinese media outlets were designated as "foreign mission" ten days after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo again preached the so-called 'China threat theory' at the National Governors Association Winter Meeting.
All these provide evidence that Washington, driven by the zero-sum mentality, is attacking China in various fields—be it economy and trade, science and technology, or humanities—to curb China's development.
Such attempts will only harm normal people-to-people exchanges between the two countries, and thereafter affect bilateral relations, which will ultimately harm the interests of the United States.