Media Retaliation Points to America’s Growing Unease Over Reciprocity With China

Media Retaliation Points to America’s Growing Unease Over Reciprocity With China
The American flag flies near the national emblem of China outside the Bayi Building in Beijing, Nov. 9, 2017 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China.

When China expelled three Wall Street Journal reporters from the country this week, it justified the move as a response to an op-ed in the Journal that Beijing deemed racist. But the day before the journalists’ press credentials were revoked, the State Department placed new restrictions on the activities of Chinese state media outlets in the United States. Under the surface of this apparent tit-for-tat is a growing unease in Washington over the lack of reciprocity in the U.S.-China relationship.

On Tuesday, the State Department designated Chinese news agencies Xinhua, CGTN, China Radio, China Daily and The People’s Daily as official government entities under the Foreign Missions Act, meaning they will be subject to similar rules as diplomatic outposts in the United States. The measure has been debated in Washington for years but never implemented, in part due to concerns about press freedom. According to Reuters, a State Department official said the decision was made because Chinese leader Xi Jinping has tightened control over the media to the point that state media outlets “are in fact arms of the CCP’s [Chinese Community Party’s] propaganda apparatus.”

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