Beijing: China on Wednesday expelled three Wall Street Journals as criticism mounts over the country’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. The virus has so far killed more than 2,000 people and infected close to 75,000 others in China alone.
‘Sick Man of Asia‘
The country marked the largest expulsion of overseas media personnel from the country in more than three decades after the newspaper declined to apologize for a column ‘China is the Real Sick Man of Asia‘ which Beijing criticized as “racist” and tarnishing its efforts to combat the deadly coronavirus epidemic. Multiple members of a foreign media organization were simultaneously ordered to leave for the first time in the decades.
“The Chinese people do not welcome media that publish racist statements and smear China with malicious attacks,” Geng Shuang, the foreign ministry spokesman, said at a press conference.
The Journal’s deputy Beijing bureau chief, Josh Chin, and reporters Chao Deng and Philip Wen, however, were not involved in writing the opinion piece that Beijing found offensive. Like most media organizations, the publication’s opinion section and the news department operate separately.
With a growing number of social media posts getting censored and deleted in recent days, several medical workers told Al Jazeera that they had been banned by their hospital managers from talking to the media.
On February 19, subscribers of Masters – a well-known online platform that publishes work by independent observers – were no longer able to access either the official website or its WeChat account, which sends out curated articles on Chinese culture and politics.