The debate between Washington and Beijing over the emerging Corona virus and the removal of American journalists from China have escalated, despite the priority the world gives to combating the epidemic..
China has threatened the United States to take additional measures if the American pressure continues, saying that “all options are on the table”, amid a new escalation of tension between the two countries.
“We adhere to a clear and unequivocal position and demand that the pressure on the Chinese media be stopped,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Gin Xuan said in a press statement Wednesday morning, commenting on China’s withdrawal of accreditation from a group of US media journalists.
“If the United States continues to go down the wrong path, we will be forced to take additional response measures, and all options are on the table”, he said.
The official pointed out that taking measures such as withdrawing the accreditation of journalists falls within the powers of the Chinese government, but he refused to clarify the number of media professionals who will be covered by this decision.
American reporters in China have given the New York Times and Washington Post the Wall Street Journal until Wednesday to hand over their press cards, which effectively means expelling them.
The China Foreign Correspondents Club said that this procedure involved at least 13 reporters.
Three Wall Street Journal reporters were expelled at the end of February.
However, the size of the new series of sanctions constitutes the stricter measure the Chinese authorities are taking against foreign media.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry stated that these measures are a response to Washington’s “outrageous” decision to significantly reduce the number of Chinese who are allowed to work for five of Beijing’s media in the United States.
“The two things are different,” said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, asserting that Washington’s actions target “members of Chinese media outlets.”
He called on China to “retract” the expulsion decisions that “prevent the world from knowing what is really happening inside the country”.
In a statement, the China Foreign Correspondents Club regretted that journalists had become “pawns” in the confrontation between the two major powers”.
Journalists are enlightening the world we live in, and with this measure, China is imposing itself on blackout,” he said.
A number of American parliamentarians, the Washington Post and the New York Times saw that the declaration of China was “unfortunate, especially at the height of a global health crisis in which information appears to have an impact that has ever impacted”.
The Wall Street Journal, for its part, described the Chinese actions as an “unprecedented” attack on press freedom.
However, as the world tries to coordinate efforts in the face of the global epidemic, the two superpowers do not stop escalating their confrontation.
On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump adopted the “Chinese virus” formula to describe the new corona, stressing that “it came from China and I think it is a very accurate formula”.
This formula has been used since the days of the US Secretary of State, who no longer talks only about “a Chinese virus” or “a virus coming from Wuhan”, the city where the disease first appeared.
On Monday evening, the President of the United States repeated it in a tweet, fueling Beijing’s anger.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said, “We are very disappointed,” considering it “a condemnation” of his country.
Beijing is calling for it not to point a finger without conclusive scientific findings about the origin of the virus, which was first detected in Wuhan last December.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman went further last week when he spoke without practical evidence of the assumption that the US military had introduced the causative agent of the disease to his country.
Trump replied, “I cannot tell China that our army has transmitted the virus to them.
Our army has not passed on the virus to anyone”.
The outraged US president made clear that he was using the phrase “Chinese virus” in response to the accusations.
This war of words has been fueling frequent diplomatic rows since Donald Trump came to power in early 2017.
When the epidemic began to spread outside China, the positions of the US government ranged from denouncing the lack of transparency on the Chinese side at the beginning, and expressing the “confidence” of the American President in his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
But the United States quickly preventing people from China from entering its territory has angered Beijing.
The message from the American side is clear that fighting the epidemic does not end competition with the giant Asian country, which the United States considers its first long-term strategic opponent.
Pompeo last week seized the opportunity to present the US State Department’s annual report on human rights to condemn Chinese policy in northwest China’s Xinjiang region, where hundreds of thousands of Muslims are apparently being held in the name of fighting terrorism.
The Trump administration is embroiled on other fronts against China, from defending democracy in Hong Kong to condemning its military expansionism in the South China Sea, through accusations of industrial espionage.
However, Trump stressed that the trade agreement, which took the form of a truce in the tariff war and concluded after months of negotiations, will not be affected by the new disputes associated with the emerging Corona virus.