March 17 (UPI) -- China on Tuesday moved to expel American journalists working for multiple U.S. news outlets in what it described as a "countermeasure" to restrictions on Chinese media in the United States.
China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that journalists from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post who are U.S. citizens and whose press credentials are due to expire before the end of the year return their press cards within 10 days.
"They will not be allowed to continue working as journalists in the People's Republic of China, including its Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions," the foreign ministry said.
The Chinese government also ordered Chinese branches of Voice of America, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and Time to declare information about their staff, finance, operation and real estate in the country.
The ministry said the moves were made in response to the U.S. government placing "unwarranted restrictions" on Chinese media in the United States including ordering Chinese media organizations to register as foreign agents and designating five Chinese media entities as foreign missions.
In response, the country said it would take reciprocal measures against American journalists for the "discriminatory restrictions" the United States has imposed on Chinese journalists with regard to visa, administrative review and reporting.
"The above-mentioned measures are entirely necessary and reciprocal countermeasures that China is compelled to take in response to the unreasonable oppression the Chinese media organizations experience in the U.S.," the Ministry of Financial Affairs said.
The U.S. National Security Council condemned China's decision, describing it as "another step toward depriving the Chinese people and the world of access to true information about China," while calling on the Chinese government to instead turn its attention toward combatting the COVID-19 outbreak.