TAIPEI, FEB. 19, 2020 — Chinese authorities should immediately restore the press credentials of three Wall Street Journal journalists and allow the media to report freely in the country, the Committee To Protect Journalists said today.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a daily news briefing today that the government was revoking the press credentials of three Wall Street Journal journalists in retaliation for what he called a racist headline on an opinion piece titled “China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia.”

Deputy bureau chief Josh Chin and reporters Chao Deng and Philip Wen are required to leave the country within the next five days, according to the newspaper. The column, written by Hudson Institute scholar Walter Russell Mead, was about the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on China’s economy, and was published on Feb. 3.

“China’s expulsion of three accredited correspondents in reaction to what it sees as an offensive headline in the opinion section of the Wall Street Journal makes the country appear less like a confident rising power than a thin-skinned bully,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “During a global health emergency, it is counterproductive for the Chinese authorities to be limiting the flow of news and information. The press credentials of Josh Chin, Chao Deng, and Philip Wen should be restored immediately.”

In a statement, Wall Street Journal parent company Dow Jones said that the organization was “deeply disappointed” by the decision, and noted that the newspaper’s opinion section publishes separately from its newsroom, and that none of the expelled journalists had “any involvement” in the column sparking their expulsion. The statement called for the journalists to be allowed to stay in the country.

Chin and Deng, both American citizens, and Wen, an Australian national, are all based in Beijing, according to the newspaper. Deng has been reporting from Wuhan, the city where the coronavirus outbreak originated, according to that report.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the Beijing-based Foreign Correspondents Club of China said that the government had not expelled an accredited journalist since 1998.

CPJ has documented previous instances of Chinese authorities refusing to grant or renew journalists’ press visas, as happened with BuzzFeed News reporter Megha Rajagopalan in August 2018, Agence France-Presse reporter Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian in June 2019, and Wall Street Journal reporter Chun Han Wong in August 2019.

TAIPEI, FEB. 10, 2020 — Chinese authorities must immediately account for the whereabouts of journalist Chen Qiushi, and ensure that the media can cover the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan without fear of retribution, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Chen, a freelance video journalist, traveled to the city of Wuhan in Hubei province from Beijing on Jan. 24 and began filming and reporting on the health crisis in the city, according to his posts on YouTube, where he has 440,000 followers, and Twitter, where he has more than 250,000 followers. His videos reported that local hospitals were short of resources and were struggling to handle the number of patients who needed treatment.

On Feb. 6, he told his family that he planned to report on a temporary hospital, and has not been seen since, according to news reports and a video message from Chen’s mother.

“Authorities in Wuhan must disclose whether they are holding journalist Chen Qiushi. If they are, then he should be released immediately,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “China does not seem to have learned the clear lesson that bottling up the truth about a spreading illness will only make matters worse.”

On Feb. 1, Chen uploaded a video from journalist Fang Bin, depicting Fang’s encounter with local authorities who claimed to be conducting virus inspections. Wuhan police briefly detained Fang and asked him to stop uploading videos about the outbreak after he filmed his visits to local hospitals, according to news reports.

When CPJ messaged Chen’s Twitter account, which has continued posting since the journalist disappeared, the person running the account identified themselves as Chen’s friend and said they wanted to maintain anonymity. They told CPJ yesterday that they had received no information on Chen’s whereabouts since he disappeared.

In August 2019, Chen flew to Hong Kong to report on the anti- government protests taking place there, and authorities summoned him back to the mainland for questioning, he said in a video posted in October.

CPJ called the Wuhan Public Security Bureau for comment, but no one answered.