China has yanked the press credentials of three Beijing-based Wall Street Journal reporters in retaliation for a Feb. 3 opinion piece published by the paper, per the country's foreign ministry. The Wall Street Journal reports the three have been given five days to exit the country. The offending opinion piece was headlined "China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia," and the uproar from the foreign ministry and state-media outlets came quickly. A ministry rep on Wednesday said "the Chinese people do not welcome media that publish racist statements and smear China with malicious attacks." He demanded a public apology and said the paper must "punish those responsible," reports the New York Times.
CNN reports it marks the first time since 1989 that multiple foreign journalists have been expelled at the same time, and the first expulsion of a foreign correspondent in general in 22 years. The three are Deputy Bureau Chief Josh Chin and reporters Chao Deng and Philip Wen; all work in news, which has no interaction with the paper's opinion operation. As for the offending phrase in the headline of the piece, which was written by Bard College professor Walter Russell Mead and touched on the coronavirus epidemic, the Journal reports it "was used by both outsiders and Chinese intellectuals to refer to a weakened China’s exploitation by European powers and Japan in the late 1800s and early 1900s." (Read more Wall Street Journal stories.)