‘Open letter’ should have been sent to US govt

By Chen Ping Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/25 16:28:40

Illustration:Liu Rui/GT

On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and the New York Times simultaneously published "An Open Letter to the Chinese Government," in which the publishers of the three major US newspapers "strongly urge the Chinese government to reverse its decision to force the Americans working for our news organizations to leave the country."

I totally agree that the media itself can play an active role in addressing the current dilemma facing journalists from both China and the US. An open letter is better than no letter at all. 

My US counterparts, however, have got it backward. They should have addressed their open letter to the US government, not China's.

We all know the US government was the first to change the status of Chinese media branches in the US to "foreign missions," which reduced the number of Chinese journalists working for Chinese news outlets in the US from 160 to 100. 

I am sure the three key US media figures know very well the whys and whatnots of the entire story. They mentioned in their letter that China's move was "made in retaliation for the recent expulsions by the United States government." They got that point right, but failed to elaborate.

Let me do it here.

China was forced to take these countermeasures when there were more important and urgent issues at hand for both China and the international community, including the US. Of course I'm referring to the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has caused so much pain and suffering around the globe. 

It would have been illogical and incorrect for the Chinese government to do nothing as US-based Chinese media "have suffered unwarranted political oppression," as Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang had put it.

Geng made it crystal clear in his response on March 19 that "if the US media have any complaints, I suggest they raise these complaints to their government." As the old Chinese proverb goes, whoever ties the bell on the tiger should take it off. I highly suggest that my US counterparts write an open letter to their own government and push for a reversal of its decision to eliminate Chinese jobs, restore US-based Chinese media's deserved status and provide a suitable environment for them to do their duty as journalists. 

The American newspapers' open letter also improperly highlights their coverage of the coronavirus epidemic in China. 

On a personal note, I would like to refer the three US media executives who jointly signed the "open letter" to the fact that Chinese media have provided detailed coverage of China's huge efforts in containing the outbreak of the epidemic. Chinese journalists have filed detailed reports on the situation in China in general and in Hubei in particular. 

Three of my colleagues at the Global Times have worked in Wuhan since the first day of the city's lockdown. 

They have reported and taken pictures of what has been taking place there. They are still in Wuhan as I write this short piece. (I keep my fingers crossed for them.) 

Chinese media's accurate, timely and detailed coverage has enabled the world to understand the severity of "one of the worst pandemics of modern times," as described in the "open letter." Their important reporting provides the world with an opportunity to learn, if not copy, the experience China has accumulated in its arduous fight with the deadly disease. 

While China is engaged in a seemingly Herculean task, it is neither ethical nor professional for US media to put extremely insulting labels on China, and use a double standard in reporting similar actions taken by China and other countries during their respective fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

I hope to soon read "An Open Letter to the Government of the United States of America" in at least one of the three US newspapers.

The author is deputy executive editor of the Global Times. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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