China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs today announced what it called “countermeasures” against actions by the Trump administration last month to designate five state-run Chinese media organizations in the United States as “foreign missions.” The measures announced by MOFA, which could seriously escalate tensions between the two countries, make clear that reporters in China for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post will no longer be permitted to work in China after March 22.

The measures also specify that “the China-based branches of Voice of America, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and Time declare in written form information about their staff, finance, operation and real estate in China.” It is not clear exactly what such declarations would mean. Also unclear is the full import of language in the announcement specifying the the expelled reporters from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post will not be permitted to work as journalists for these media in Hong Kong and Macau.

So far there are few responses or other coverage in the Chinese media. The Global Times, however, posted a report including interviews with two Chinese experts at 2:06AM, suggesting the paper had prepared the report in advance of the MOFA announcement.

A partial translation of the Global Times piece follows.

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“Friendship cannot stand always on one side.” Shen Yi, an assistant professor in the School of International Relations and Public Affairs at Fudan University, told the Global Times in an interview that the measures taken this time by Chinese side toward American media were entirely reciprocal in terms of the number of media affected and the concrete measures taken. This shows that in relations between nations, while it is important to maintain a friendly attitude, friendship must be built on a foundation of reciprocity, not on one-sided forbearance. “If the United States makes things such that it is impossible to play according to the normal rules of the game, then China will also in the future play according to the new rules of the game set by the United States.”

Shen Yi also said that compared to past Chinese responses, this response shows greater confidence on China’s part, and shows greater bluntness and directness. “This tells us that US-China relations have already entered a new phase: China will no longer accept compromise. If the United States is willing to move in the opposite direction, this would be good, but if the United States obstructs China, it will certainly fight back.”

Li Haidong (李海东), a professor at the Institute for International Relations at China Foreign Affairs University, said to the Global Times that China’s response does not seek to make new trouble, but rather hopes through these actions to warn the United States that its own actions are inappropriate, and to press the US to make amends. Only in this way can media dialogue between China and United States be smooth and normal. “This move is also a reminder to the United States that US-China exchanges cannot be made ideological, and cannot be viewed and handled with Cold War thinking.”

He said at the same time that this matter would not obstruct China’s opening to the world, including its opening toward the US. The space for US-China exchanges still exists, and in fact is extremely broad. The two sides should do everything in their power to create conditions, strengthen communication and promote cooperation.

[Featured image by Torrenegra available at Flickr.com under CC license.]