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US newspapers come together to urge China not to expel their journalists

The US, in announcing the visa limit, cited increasingly harsh surveillance, harassment and intimidation of American and other foreign journalists working in China

BS Web Team & Agencies  |  New Delhi 

Xi jinping, coronavirus, china
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping, centre, wearing a protective face mask waves as he inspects the novel coronavirus pneumonia prevention and control work at a neighbourhoods in Beijing

The publishers of three major American newspapers have written an open letter asking to reverse its recent decision to expel many of their correspondents working in the country.

The letter posted online Tuesday referred to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, saying the expulsions threaten access to information at a time when it is needed most. It was signed by the publishers of The New York Times, The Washington Post and

This move made in retaliation for recent expulsions by the government is one that we would protest under any circumstances," they wrote. But it is uniquely damaging and reckless as the world continues the struggle to control this disease, a struggle that will require the free flow of reliable news and information."

ALSO READ: China expels several US journalists in biggest crackdown on foreign media

said last week that most Americans working for the three publications would have to surrender their press cards within 10 days. The move followed a Trump administration decision to limit the number of visas for Chinese working for China's major state media in the U. S.

The US, in announcing the visa limit, cited increasingly harsh surveillance, harassment and intimidation of American and other foreign working in

Chinese media including the official Xinhua News Agency and the arm of state broadcaster CCTV are now restricted to a total of 100 visas.

Collectively, they employed about 160 Chinese in the U. S., meaning about 60 would have to leave.

The Chinese action applies to Americans whose credentials are due to expire by the end of the year. The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China said at least 13 would be affected. They are effectively expelled because their visas are tied to their press cards.

The media is collateral damage in a diplomatic dispute between the Chinese and U. S. governments, threatening to deprive the world of critical information at a perilous moment, the letter from the newspaper publishers said. The coronavirus pandemic started in China and has spread to most of the rest of the world.

The publishers urged the Chinese government to reverse the expulsions and ease what they called a growing crackdown on independent news organizations in China.

First Published: Wed, March 25 2020. 07:53 IST