The National Security Council on Wednesday slammed China’s expulsion of all American reporters working for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post from the country.
“The Chinese Communist Party’s decision to expel journalists from China and Hong Kong is yet another step toward depriving the Chinese people and the world of access to true information about China,” read a statement from the NSC posted on Twitter. “The United States calls on China’s leaders to refocus their efforts from expelling journalists and spreading disinformation to joining all nations in stopping the Wuhan coronavirus.”
China’s foreign ministry said the expulsion of reporters was in response to the U.S.’s designation of five Chinese government-owened media outlets as foreign missions and its decision to place certain restrictions on those outlets’ employees. It comes amid worries that the Chinese Communist Party may be attempting to hide the full extent of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.
Chinese premier Xi Jinping is “terrified of a free and independent press because he doesn’t want to be challenged when his government regularly spews insane propaganda,” Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) said in a statement on Wednesday. “Chairman Xi can expel all the real journalists he wants, but he can’t change the fact that his coronavirus cover-up killed thousands of his own people and put the world at risk.”
Chinese medical authorities reportedly put a gag order on Wuhan labs that discovered the new coronavirus in December, and Wuhan government officials have reprimanded doctors who tried to warn friends and family of the virus. Meanwhile, Chinese propagandists have recently begun pushing a theory that the Wuhan coronavirus may have originated in the U.S.