BEIJING, AUGUST 6: China repeated that it would take measures if Washington didn’t renew visas for Chinese journalists working in the US, amid questions over whether it will make a tit-for-tat move against American reporters in Hong Kong.
“We learned that relevant Chinese journalists applied for visa extensions but none of them have received a clear reply from the US side,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a daily briefing in Beijing on Thursday, echoing comments he made earlier this week.
“If the US is bent on going down the wrong path, China will take necessary and legitimate measures to defend its interests.”
Speculation over the future visa status of US journalists working in Hong Kong mounted this week following online posts by Global Times Editor-in-Chief Hu Xijin that a number of Chinese journalists would see their visas expire on August 6, and “none of them” had yet been renewed.
“From what I know, given that the US side hasn’t renewed visa of Chinese journalists, Chinese side has prepared for the worst scenario that all Chinese journalists have to leave the US,” Hu wrote Tuesday on Twitter. “If that’s the case, Chinese side will retaliate, including targeting US journalists based in HK.”
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong said Thursday that it “opposes using journalists’ visas as a weapon in international disputes.”
The club “is aware of recent examples of delays involving the issuing of visas to foreign journalists in Hong Kong, as well as suggestions by the Chinese Government that more foreign journalists could face repercussions in response to US actions,” it said in a statement.
“The FCC calls on the Trump administration to lift its restrictions on Chinese media working in the US, and on Hong Kong and China’s Governments to refrain from retribution in targeting US media and journalists working in Hong Kong,” it said.
Hong Kong’s ability to determine its own immigration policy has been undermined in recent years, and any squeezing of journalists in the financial hub could fuel a broader escalation in tensions between the US and China.
“We said many times that the US caused the current situation and is responsible for it,” said Wang, the Foreign Ministry spokesman. “The US should immediately correct its mistakes and stop its political oppression against Chinese journalists.”