U.S. press leaders to China: Rethink expelling journalists

The National Press Club and the National Press Club Journalism Institute urged the Chinese government yesterday to reconsider a plan to expel three Wall Street Journal reporters from China. 

China has ordered Josh Chin, the paper’s deputy bureau chief in China, and reporters Chao Deng and Philip Wen to leave the country in five days, The Journal said Wednesday.

Chin and Deng are U.S. citizens and Wen is Australian.

A Chinese spokesman, Geng Shuang, said the planned expulsions were a response to a Feb. 3 Wall Street Journal opinion column that he called “racist” and an attack on China.

The column, “China is the Real Sick Man of Asia,” was about the economic and political implications of the coronavirus and was written by Walter Russell Mead, an academic and a contributor to the paper's opinion pages.

“Allowing a free exchange of ideas, including those we disagree with, is a mark of a healthy and strong nation,” National Press Club President Michael Freedman said. “This type of retaliation is unworthy of a major world power and we call on China to reverse it.”

Angela Greiling Keane, president of the National Press Club Journalism Institute, said: “The Wall Street Journal reporters are in China simply to report the facts. Newspapers publish a variety of opinions in their editorial pages that are separate and independent from the reporters and editors who cover the news.”