As global concern remains surrounding the coronavirus, China is confirming that it has expelled three journalists from the Wall Street Journal over an op-ed published in their paper earlier this month.
That article was heavily criticized after it referred to China as “the real sick man of Asia,” as the country works to combat a deadly virus that has killed more than 2,000 people.
China has expelled a foreign correspondent for the first time in more than two decades over what they are calling a racist article that was heavily critical of Beijing amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The Wall Street Journal’s deputy bureau chief and one of its reporters, who are both US nationals, and another reporter who is an Australian national, now have five days to leave the country. They, notably, had nothing to do with the article at the center of the controversy.
The op-ed, which was published earlier this month and written by Professor Walter Russell Mead from Bard College in New York, featured the title “China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia,” followed by the claim that “its financial markets may be even more dangerous than its wildlife markets.”
The publication faced immediate backlash, with many accusing it of acting as a platform to spread anti-China rhetoric and fear at a dangerous time. China’s foreign ministry argued that the op-ed “smears the efforts of the Chinese government and people” who are fighting the coronavirus epidemic.
A spokesperson called out the author by name, saying “You should be ashamed of your words, your arrogance, your prejudice and your ignorance.”
She also pointed to the fact that according to the CDC’s data, the current flu season in the US has already infected more than 19 million people and killed at least 10,000.
China defended its decision to expel the journalists, noting that it has repeatedly called on the Wall Street Journal to issue an apology. However, Beijing claimed that instead, the Journal has resorted to dodging its responsibility, and it has neither issued an official apology nor confirmed whether the author of the article will face any form of punishment.
It’s not clear yet if China plans to retaliate even further against the Wall Street Journal, or if it would consider allowing the expelled reporters back in the country if it receives an apology.
Meanwhile, health officials have confirmed that more than 2,000 people have died, in connection to the coronavirus, and more than 75,000 have been infected around the world.
Notably, reports are also claiming that more than 10,000 people have been said to have recovered from the virus. But there is now concern about whether they can and will be re-infected as they are released from the hospital.
For now, scientists are still working to understand what this virus is capable of, and just how long it can survive as fears continue to increase about how it will impact the global economy in the coming months.