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China threatens 'countermeasures' against United States as media war escalates

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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang listens to a question during a daily briefing at the Ministr

"The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is playing a fool's game with its decision to restrict journalist visas issued to Chinese citizens during a global pandemic, when the free flow of information is more important than ever", said Steven Butler, CPJ's Asia program coordinator.

"Now, they're using visas to take discriminatory limitations, severely disrupting the Chinese media's ability to report normally in the U.S., severely disrupting people-to-people relations between our two countries", he said.

The drop in Beijing's investment in the United States reflected tensions between the two biggest economies and Chinese government restrictions on overseas investment. Reporter visas are usually open-ended and don't need to be extended unless the reporter moves to a different news outlet in their home country, Reuters reported.

In February, China kicked out three journalists from The Wall Street Journal after the newspaper ran an opinion piece on the coronavirus crisis with a headline that Beijing called racist.

"Now it is resorting to discriminatory restrictive visa measures, severely disrupting Chinese media's normal reporting in the U.S. and affecting bilateral people-to-people and cultural exchange, he said".

"It's going to create greater national security protections", the official said.

In the past two years, the United States has denied visa applications to over 20 US-based Chinese journalists, according to Zhao.

United States officials have accused China of a crackdown against free speech and suppressing information about the magnitude of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Our two countries are still far from decoupled, but the trend lines are not pointing in the right direction", said Stephen Orlins, president of the National Committee on US-China Relations, in a statement accompanying the report. US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have also claimed that the virus originated from a lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The government has reserved its most cutting attacks for the Trump administration, which it says is seeking to shift blame to China to divert attention from its own bungling of the pandemic and motivate his base ahead of the November presidential election.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters during a daily briefing in Beijing that China deplored and rejected the USA decision, which Zhao called an escalation of suppression against Chinese media.

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