US says China ‘afraid’ of free media after new restrictions

WASHINGTON: The United States on Tuesday (Sep 8) accused China of fearing a free media as it denounced Beijing’s new restrictions on the international press.

China’s foreign ministry “has informed us that they plan to further limit access for foreign journalists working in the PRC,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.

“These proposed actions will worsen the reporting environment in China, which is already suffering a dearth of open and independent media reporting,” she wrote on Twitter.

“Why is the CCP afraid of independent and investigative media reporting?” she said, referring to the Chinese Communist Party.

China warned on Tuesday that foreign journalists must “obey the law” to work in the country.

It made the announcement after investigating two Australian journalists who fled on Tuesday under diplomatic protection, fearing arrest.

Fellow Australian journalist Cheng Lei has been detained since last month, and China has acknowledged she is being held on national security grounds.

China has already expelled US journalists from major newspapers, raising concerns that Beijing is seeking to stop investigative reporting, including on human rights.

READ: China delays renewing credentials for journalists at US outlets

Beijing acted against US journalists after the State Department tightened regulations on Chinese state media outlets, calling them propaganda, although it did not restrict their journalists’ right to report inside the United States.