A Wall Street Journal reporter will remain in the locked-down Chinese city at the centre of the new coronavirus outbreak despite being ordered to leave the country, authorities said Tuesday.
Three journalists had their press credentials revoked and were told to depart China last week over what Beijing said was a racist headline in the newspaper’s opinion pages, which none of the trio were involved in writing.
Two flew out from Beijing on Monday but the third – US national Chao Deng – has been reporting from Wuhan, where the virus was first detected.
The central city and industrial hub has been under effective quarantine for more than a month and its 11 million residents have been largely confined to their homes.
Chao will not be expelled for the time being but will not be permitted to work while she remains in China, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a press briefing.
“Out of humanitarian reasons, we will continue to allow her to stay in Wuhan, but she cannot conduct interviews,” Zhao said.
“After the epidemic is over, we will allow her to leave as quickly as possible.”
The three reporters were told to pack their bags after the Journal published an opinion piece titled “China is the Real Sick Man of Asia” earlier this month.
The foreign ministry said the article’s headline was “racially discriminatory” and slammed its critique of China’s response to the new virus epidemic, which has killed over 2,600 people nationwide.
Chao, fellow American Josh Chin, and Australian Philip Wen were given five days to leave the country.
The trio were the first overseas reporters outright expelled by Beijing in more than 20 years, according to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China though reporters based in the country sometimes have visa applications denied or delayed without being given reason.
The Journal reporters were told to pack their bags a day after Washington announced new rules requiring Chinese state media outlets in the United States to submit lists of their employees and seek State Department approval before buying property.
US President Donald Trump said his administration was weighing its response to the expulsions.
“It’s something that I don’t like to see – I don’t think it’s fair,” Trump told a press conference in New Delhi at the end of a state visit to India.